After Republican Atty. Gen. Jeff Landry publicized Louisiana law that allows parents to have students opt out from school vaccination schedules, Edwards doubled down on his insistence that children as young as 5, and his preference that this include children as young as 2, should wear masks in school most of the time. He did so in sending a letter to Superintendent Cade Brumley to remind districts about the content of his latest order, emphasizing the intent was to stop the spread of the virus – despite what public policy studies have concluded on the matter.
Even though the law he mentioned doesn’t cover a mask mandate, Landry released guidance for parents to make written dissent to both masking and vaccination mandates, pointing out deficiencies in mask wearing insofar as affecting transmission of the Wuhan coronavirus. It didn’t go into details, but the latest information specifically relating to children shows they transmit the virus at a far lower rate than do adults, that a comparison of schools with masks mandated and not didn’t show any different in number of virus cases, and that studies conflict on whether requiring masks on children – who get sick from the virus at a tiny fraction of the rate that even vaccinated adults do and are 3.2 times less likely to die from the virus than a person would suffer death from a lightning strike – harms them psychologically and/or physically.
Landry insists that the governor doesn’t control school policy, calling that the province of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. It will likely take litigation to sort out the dispute.
More generally, setting aside the question of mask effectiveness in general in slowing transmission, mandates work poorly in slowing the spread of the virus. The most recent updated research on the topic didn’t observe association between mask mandates or use and reduced virus spread among states. This happens because of things like improper wearing and indifferent vigilance – behavioral habits children are even more prone to practice than adults.
Of course, Edwards is entirely hypocritical if he truly means to suppress transmission by leaving things just at a mask mandate. More effective would be returning to the economic and social lockdown when the cases and hospitalization statistics were as bad as now – but with huge negative external effects that would cause political headaches he dearly wants to avoid. So, he chooses to create the illusion that he’s doing something, at the expense of children.
Perhaps a year ago with the vacuum of information about the virus you could defend forcing covers onto children’s faces. With what is known now, it’s inexcusable and indicative of an approach that places politics over science that harms children – which is why governments around the world last year refused to implement such an order and will not this school year, leaving a handful of leftist state policy-makers like Edwards as almost the only ones on the planet foisting this onto youth.
Given this environment, parents who still feel the benefits would outweigh the costs are perfectly free to submit to the mandate. As for adults in schools, they are free to wear masks or, much more effectively, receive a no-cost vaccination plentifully available throughout the state.
But for parents who see the risks for their children’s health and healthy development from wearing masks as greater than the less-than-microscopic chance their children could become seriously ill, they have civil disobedience as their only recourse for now. The like-minded should organize and send children to school without masks and make the schools kick their children out of the classroom day after day, forcing school officials to deal with the bureaucratic nightmare and adverse public relations that would result. As well, court challenges may produce rulings that the policy overreaches constitutionally.
Americans have a long history of resisting unjust government actions, and this episode provides another opportunity to display that stubborn streak that craves for justice while promoting the welfare of children.