Union bosses: We’ll say when, if ever, school mask mandates end

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Some COVID-19 countermeasures that long enjoyed the backing of federal, state and local politicians and their appointees appear now to do more harm than good. Mandatory masks for schoolchildren and teachers and other employees of K-12 schools are a case in point.

This commentary is by Stan Greer, senior research associate for the National Institute for Labor Relations Research.

Over the past two years, medical specialists and non-specialists alike have learned a great deal about how to respond effectively to the COVID-19 pandemic without causing unnecessary and unwarranted collateral damage.

Some COVID-19 countermeasures that long enjoyed the backing of federal, state and local politicians and their appointees appear now to do more harm than good. Mandatory masks for schoolchildren and teachers and other employees of K-12 schools are a case in point.

A December 2021 analysis of more than 150 studies on masking by Dr. Paul Alexander, an epidemiologist and former consultant to the World Health Organization, concluded that “surgical and cloth masks, used as they currently are being used (without other forms of PPE protection) have no impact on controlling the transmission” of COVID-19.

Moreover, the health risk to school-aged children from COVID-19 is minimal. It has a “lower annual mortality risk to children than motor vehicle accidents, influenza, and … suicide.”  Unvaccinated children infected with COVID, including those with preexisting conditions as well as those without them, have less than a 1 in 10,000 chance of going to an intensive care unit.

And there is “little evidence that masking students protects others.” A study conducted in Sweden, where schools were kept open without mask mandates, found that country’s teachers “had no increased risk of severe COVID-19 infection as compared to other occupations.”

Faced with ever-mounting evidence that mask mandates are not needed to protect children, their families, or education professionals from COVID-19, along with growing concerns among pediatricians and other doctors that prolonged mask wearing by children may lead to “robotic and emotionless interactions, anxiety and depression,” late last month even relentlessly pro-mandate Rochelle Walensky changed her tune.

On Feb. 25, just 10 days after telling a U.S. House panel the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had “no plans to change their recommendation that all U.S. schools require students to wear masks,” President Joe Biden’s handpicked CDC director issued revised guidance for schools, stating that masks should only be mandated when COVID cases and hospitalizations are high. Effectively, this CDC shift means “most U.S. schools now have the agency’s OK to go without [mandatory] masks.”

In the weeks since the CDC adopted its current stance opposing the forcible masking of schoolchildren with relatively few exceptions, Walensky has been widely mocked for “shifting with the … political winds.” But the fact is, her contortions are nothing compared to those of teacher union bosses who, as long as the CDC’s “guidance” was to their liking, insisted that education officials must submit to it, or else.

Take, for example, Jesse Sharkey, the lame-duck president of the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU/AFT/AFL-CIO). As he knows full well, the Windy City is not an area “at high risk of serious illness or strained health-care resources.” Consequently, according to the CDC, there is no justifiable reason to mask all the children in Chicago’s schools.

In a March 4 press statement responding to reports that Chicago officials were considering lifting their city’s school mask mandate to comply with current CDC guidance, Sharkey made no mention of that guidance. Instead, he suggested, quite madly, that the only way schools can “safely” make masks optional is by first getting permission from CTU officials to do so. Sharkey went on to make it clear that he is not really opposed to making masks voluntary. It’s just that he and other CTU bosses want to make sure taxpayers pay a steep price before they agree to it.

On March 7, the CTU hierarchy filed a grievance with the Illinois Labor Relations Board to block Chicago schools from implementing their plan, announced that day, to make masks voluntary starting March 14 unless the district first agrees to bargain over a laundry list of costly new union-boss demands.

With this outrageous power and money grab, Sharkey and his cohorts are illustrating once again why lawmakers in Illinois and more than 30 other states never should have handed monopoly-bargaining privileges over teachers’ and other public servants’ pay, benefits, and work rules to union officials in the first place.

Image courtesy of Public domain

13 thoughts on “Union bosses: We’ll say when, if ever, school mask mandates end

  1. If you weren’t convince already, you should be now: take your children out of the public schools!

  2. If the money follows the child……would create competition, sorely needed at this point……..

  3. If you look carefully, really look, you’ll find that teachers that work face to face with kids account for about 1/3 of school budgets. Regardless of the progressive unions (all true), the exorbitant wasteful spending is not on the teachers so much as it is on all the intangibles. Diversity and equity departments (why?), school coaches, support staff, Multilingual liaisons, equity officers, bloated HR departments, assistant superintendents?, curriculum directors, assistant curriculum directors and the list goes on forever. It’s impossible to see it all, in one well-organized document and that’s the way the districts like it. Uninformed voters think they’re being virtuous, “vote yes for the kids”, when in reality they are growing the school government every year. And as we all know, once positions and programs are created, they are very difficult to remove.

  4. I voted no for every school budget item this year. If more people did that there would be a time of suffering for parents but the unions could be shut down.

  5. Everything you said is the truth. In most cases, unions are full of crap.. The unions don’t care about the people they only care about their pockets. The dues the members have to pay each month is outrageous The Union higher ups are thugs. Greedy THUGS.

  6. It’s becoming ever more evident that us “professional educators” have become indentured to a union who has hired us out to a monopoly enterprise living off our captive community. We lionize this as a great accomplishment…the American Public School system. We vote exorbitant amounts of money to pay ourselves and put up edifices. With such votes, there is no thought of conflict-of-interest. The possibility that we may have involved ourselves in an elaborate extortion scheme doesn’t come up. Parents, those responsible for educating their kids, have been disconnected from the venders they might want. Teachers/curriculum/”programs” are not selected al la carte they’re foisted upon families. Folks squirm and squabble in their attempts to exert influence over this failed system trying to tailor it to their needs. Unleash parents and teachers — let them do business. Privatize teaching/schooling/curriculum — teachers have skills to offer.

  7. Plain and simple- Until there is a marked change in the thinking of a liberal, stuff like this will continue.
    As socialists, liberals and other fancy thinkers have assumed control of school boards and state houses, the clear collusion with unions has evolved to the point where the union bosses hold power over everyone, including the politician and school board member. No surprise here in Vermont, our state has served as a test bed for increasing government and union control over education for decades, with the biggest win being the Brigham decision in 1997 under then Governor Howard Dean’s maneuvering. Education has become the “third rail” in Vermont politics and the unions know it. We do not see the abuses such as Chicago and California taxpayers and students endure, but we are close. Those that are new to Vermont, from places like NY, NJ, Connecticut marvel at Vermont, exclaim how perfect it is here, then demand changes to make Vermont like wherever they escaped from. Hence, Teacher’s Union foolishness has entrenched itself here as well.
    These union demands have nothing to do with health nor safety, but plain unadulterated control over the taxpayer, politician, parent and student- and for all but the most radical liberal teacher.
    We let it happen, fixing it will take more than lip service from taxpayers and government.

  8. Anyone who thinks these masks do anything to prevent C-19, are too stupid to be teaching or working for any government agency. — The masks can only filter to 3 microns. the C-19 particles are all smaller then 1 micron. Anyone who doesn’t get that is too stupid to be involved with children or they are a communist. Period.

    • Ed-they can’t grasp the most basic science of two genders. And they are discipling our future.

      Any parent – particularly biblical Christian parents – that still think their kids are being “salt and light” will most likely have children they don’t recognize by high school.

      Most parents have no clue what’s going on in schools. It’s still sometimes subtle enough – but constant- it’s hard to appreciate or detect. The kids brains are so normalized to all of this that when asked, they can’t even report that anything askew is being taught.

      But sure. Your kids spending 8months a year 7hrs a day in these environments for 13+ years will walk out unaffected.

      • Ls — a note of optimism. This propaganda bombardment has been going on for at least my entire tenure as a lifetime NEA member. They’ve also convinced us that this “schooling” enterprise is EDUCATION. And yet we’ve always known that education is learning…our own inevitable personal verb. Their delusional machinations, as reprehensible as they are, aren’t working. We have good sense blooming all around us. Our American individualism…our thinking isn’t easily enslaved.

    • Plus, you know, the niggling little detail on the boxes of surgical masks imported from and made in China say right on them: Does not protect from CV-19.
      And we knew that as soon as the masking started…people still had enough oxygen getting to their brains to use them to think critically. Or some of us did.
      No reads …and no one reads labels anymore?

      Any studies of long deprivation of oxygen and what it does to cognitive abilities, and bodily functions? Or any mention that oxygen deprivation damage to the brain is… irreversible?

      • Maybe the citizens should just start killing off all school
        budgets and close them down.. whatcha going to do then
        school bosses without a school?
        Masks are doing major harm to the children not only on
        the Oxygen aspect, which liberals don’t require as they
        don’t have to think, but also on the visual recognition of
        their peers facial responses and the inhaling of spent bad air that’s being expended for a reason..

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