Young students and state epidemiologist weigh in on Vermont masking policies

The State Board of Education got to hear from its two student members regarding their perspectives on the largely divisive masking policies at its recent regular meeting, and the theme of their comments showed the current policies seem to be working without a mandate.

The young women appeared to encourage masking, an issue that has the country divided mostly along political party lines.

Gabrielle Lucci, a junior at Rutland High School and a member of the board, told her colleagues outdoor mask breaks are often needed so children can catch their breath.

“Kids are usually very good about wearing them but occasionally we will have the issue of sometimes students in class lowering it below their nose, or somewhere in another area of the school. That can happen where kids will not want to keep their masks on for while,” she said. “But if that happens what we usually do, if it’s not in a classroom, we usually just tell them that they can step outside and have a mask break.”

Michael Bielawski/TNR

‘LET THEM BREATHE’: A sign from a pro-constitution, anti-lockdown rally in Montpelier earlier this summer.

Angelita Peña, a student of Mount Abraham Union High School and a board member, said fellow students are mostly complying without a mandate.

“We haven’t had any mask problems, which has been absolutely amazing,” she said. “I will say we had a case that did expose a lot of kids, but thankfully a majority of our school is vaccinated and our school handled it very well.”

For parents, the issue of masking in schools has become one of the most divisive topics for the new school year. A recent Monmouth University poll shows a near-even split of Americans regarding the policy, and further breakdown indicates the split is mostly along party lines.

“The partisan split on this question is huge — 85% of Democrats support bringing back guidelines while 73% of Republicans oppose it,” the report states. “Independents are divided with 42% in support and 55% opposed.”

Earlier this month, Vermont State Epidemiologist Patsy Kelso said in an interview with WCAX that “the conditions just don’t warrant a statewide mandate for something like masks.”

In an email sent to True North Reports last week, Kelso added that COVID is likely here to stay, and that the state’s current approach to vaccination is a successful strategy.

“Unfortunately, it is not realistic to think we can 100% eliminate COVID-19,” she wrote. “However, Vermont is a highly vaccinated state, in fact, the most or one of the most vaccinated populations in the country.

“So, while we are seeing an increase in cases during this surge, including among people who are fully vaccinated, the vaccines continue to do their job – reducing cases, hospitalizations and the severity of illnesses, and, importantly, reducing the number of deaths.”

Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that the vast majority of COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. have been of adults, and minors are far less likely to spread the virus.

Nevertheless, Kelso said masks should be used as a tool for preventing the spread of viruses in school settings.

“As you know, nearly all children under the age of 12 are not yet eligible to be vaccinated, so it makes good public health sense to do all we can to help limit the spread of the virus.”

Other serious viruses in the United States — including influenza, which has claimed more than 80,000 lives in a single year — have not been treated the same way as the coronavirus, especially with regard to mandatory masking and vaccination.

Asked how state and federal health department officials can justify the radically different approach taken for similarly deadly viruses, Kelso replied, “Covid-19 is not the same virus as influenza.”

Other states have prohibited mask mandates. In mid-August, the Texas Supreme Court upheld Gov. Greg Abbot’s executive order banning mask mandates in schools, and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has begun obtaining restraining orders against lawless districts that are attempting to defy the order.

The Biden administration is now opening an investigation into the Texas Education Agency in an attempt to block the mask ban.

Michael Bielawski is a reporter for True North. Send him news tips at and follow him on Twitter @TrueNorthMikeB.

Image courtesy of Michael Bielawski/TNR

9 thoughts on “Young students and state epidemiologist weigh in on Vermont masking policies

  1. It is simply child abuse. The psychological and physical damage is yet to be fully seen. Reprehensible and dispicible actions against innocent children. Crimes against humanity.

  2. How are we helping those in the hospital?

    Are we putting them on ventilators? This is a death sentence and medical malpractice. How are we helping those who have been duped by our own “professionals”.

    There are entire areas of the world that are cOvid free, India has a state of 231 million people, living in abject poverty, perhaps 7 people to one room, with open sewers, yet have eradicated cOvid. What of Vermont?

    We were better off without the vaccine, this is science, not the political science of the New World Order. The fear we should have is of those following these sophists, these confidence men and women who wish to do us harm.

    This world is filled with pride, we declare I know everything, yet we have no wisdom to discern truth from pm lies because we are woefully uneducated. We have little embrace of truth and love. We stick forward, license plate on our car stating “Vermont Strong!” Making government and politics our religion. Our religion is power and money.

    And here we find ourselves being fleeced of our livelihoods, taxed til broke and under the boot of medical tyranny all in the name of Vermont Pride.

    Might I suggest we’ve put our ladder on the wrong wall in our search of success, we are reaping what we’ve sown. It is no mistake our youth is confused, lost, hopeless, scared out of their minds, sexually obsessed and confused, penniless.

    There is a much better way, a narrow path. We ask regularly for a new spirit to enter the hearts of our neighbors. We can not change ourselves but we can be changed. TGBTG.

  3. I use to develop safety manuals and programs. The surgical masks can filter to 3 microns. the C19 virus particles are smaller the 1 micron. Anyone who thinks these masks are useful, failed logic100. Not to mention grade school arithmetic.

    I think mandating them in the workplace is actually OSHA violation.

  4. The real-world experiment of Sweden says it all: masks don’t matter. Their impact is so minor as to be negligible, and this minor impact is no justification for medical mandates imposed on the population.

    The solution is simple: if you’re afraid of Covid-19, wear a mask. Wear two masks and gloves. Wear a body suit. Leave the rest of us alone.

    If you want to limit the spread of the virus, then promote ivermectin, vitamins C and D, and zinc. These are simple, cheap, harmless, and far more effective than masks are. We have real world experiments for ivermectin, too: Uttar Pradesh in India.


    Japan has also recommended the use of ivermectin for all Covid cases.

    There is no money in ivermectin. Thus, Dr. Fauci is opposed to it.

    How much longer will we wallow in ignorance and obfuscation for the sake of a few extra bucks, and power and control?

  5. let me start off by saying if I go to a business and the signs says mask required I may or
    may not go into that establishment my choice, even though I carry a mask with me daily
    no mandate just a choice !!

    So with all the highly educated people running our school systems, all they can come
    up with is ” masking ” the kids, and they don’t see a problem with kids sitting all day
    exhaling and inhaling there own ” carbon dioxide ” and these are supposedly the smart
    ones caring for your children safety and health………. sure !!

Comments are closed.