Connecticut children cannot be certain they can finally be free of wearing masks in school since – although Gov. Ned Lamont (D) said he would end the state school mask mandate by February 28 – that plan depends on the legislature voting to extend his pandemic emergency powers, and then on individual school districts.
In his State of the State address Wednesday, Lamont told residents he will roll back some coronavirus restrictions, including the school mask mandate, adding, “You have earned this freedom.”
A Patch report noted Lamont switched gears on the mask mandate just as New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy (D) announced he would also end his state’s mask mandate on March 7.
“The two Northeastern state leaders have frequently been in sync in both their enactment and relaxation of COVID-19 protocols throughout the pandemic,” the Patch report stated.
“I think this is something we’ve earned,” Lamont said during a news conference Monday afternoon, framing the end of the mask mandate as a privilege “earned.”
“Schools will receive updated guidance from the Connecticut Department of Health, but there will not be ‘one firm metric,’ according to DPH Commissioner Dr. Manisha Juthani,” the Patch report added.
Other Democrat governors, however, are also ending the unpopular mask mandates as the midterm elections approach and events such as the truckers’ Freedom Convoy have spread globally from Canada, including into the United States.
As others noted, there is nothing in The Science™ that changed to justify Dem politicians suddenly ending mask mandates. All that changed is the political fear they have.
Conflating "The Science" with politics like this is a key reason many lost trust in public health experts. https://t.co/yYpjR4b5Bt
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) February 8, 2022
Seattle-area KTTH radio host Jason Rantz cited a video tweeted by radio host Clay Travis, of Outkick’s The Clay Travis & Buck Sexton Show, showing the reaction of some children in Las Vegas who were told by their teacher they could stop wearing masks in school after Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak (D) rescinded his state’s mask mandate, effective immediately.
“After watching this reaction, teachers and left-wing media outlets should reflect on what they’re doing to kids by keeping them in masks,” Rantz observed.
After watching this reaction, teachers and left-wing media outlets should reflect on what they’re doing to kids by keeping them in masks. https://t.co/pDFrVDbJqY
— Jason Rantz on KTTH Radio (@jasonrantz) February 11, 2022
As the Associated Press reported Friday, the Democrat-controlled Connecticut House voted 86-62, to temporarily extend some of Lamont’s pandemic emergency powers, including the statewide school mask mandate. Nine Democrats joined Republicans in opposing the extension. The bill now awaits a vote Monday in the state Senate, also controlled by Democrats.
Republicans argued parents should decide whether or not their children wear masks.
“We need to start getting kids back to where they can learn,” said State Representative Jay Case (R-Winchester). “Our kids are losing. They’ve lost two years of their childhood. They lost two years of being with their friends and playing and doing fun things that we all used to do.”
As AP reported, however, Democrats said Connecticut must keep its state of emergency in order to qualify for federal pandemic relief funds, including those associated with the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
While many parent groups in Connecticut are fighting the mask mandate, the labor unions have expressed opposition.
American Federation of Teachers (AFT) Connecticut President Jan Hochadel said in a statement last week:
We have remained among the safest states throughout this pandemic because elected leaders have heeded the call to “follow the science.” It has provided a reliable road map for the numerous tough decisions we’ve faced as labor leaders and educators. There is no sound reason to veer off course now and put the health and safety of our members and their students at greater risk.
Connecticut Education Association (CEA) President Kate Dias also said “the key to keeping infection rates low, schools open, and everyone safe will be continuing state-mandated masking and other mitigation efforts outlined by our public health experts.”
“Let’s not forget we still have large numbers of unvaccinated students in our classrooms, and COVID sub-variants are proving more transmissible,” Dias added. “We must continue to do all we can to keep students and staff safe and schools open.”
Many mental health experts and researchers disagree, however, with the continued mask mandates, asserting children are suffering the greatest burden from them.
As The Star News Network reported, Los Angeles-based child psychiatrist Dr. Mark McDonald has expressed much of the government response to the pandemic has been “utterly devastating” to the mental health of children, considering most children have a low risk for serious disease from COVID-19.
McDonald said in a podcast in November for the Unity Project he fears the government’s response to the pandemic has led to social brain damage for children “by keeping them from school, by forcing them to wear masks, by isolating them, by depriving them of the normal and necessary integrated social, psychological and emotional connections with other people and with their environment.”
In a study at the website Urgency of Normal, researcher Dr. Tracy Høeg also tracked COVID case rates at two school districts in the same community, both of which had 12,000 students. While one district had a mask mandate, the other was mask-optional. Results of the study showed COVID-19 rates in both districts remained comparable, with both increasing during the Omicron surge.
Høeg found as well that, when the district with the mask mandate decided to make them optional, the transmission of COVID fell.
She concluded that, over the fall semester, the mask mandate had not reduced transmission rates in the mandated district.
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Susan Berry, PhD, is national education editor at The Star News Network. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Ned Lamont” by Ned Lamont. Background Photo “Connecticut Capitol” by jglazer75 CC BY 2.0.