MONROE, CT — Justin Orlando, a Republican candidate for the Board of Education who opposes masks mandates, actually wore his views on his chest throughout an interview at Starbucks Friday morning. His T-shirt stated, “Breaking News: Fresh Air is Still Fresh Air.”
He disagrees with Gov. Ned Lamont having sole authority on how the state handles the pandemic, together with the chief order requiring masking in colleges.
“I am not anti-mask. I am pro choice,” Orlando stated. “This forces people to do what they disagree with. The governor is mandating that I mask my kids.”
Orlando stated he personally doesn’t consider masks are efficient towards the unfold of the coronavirus, however believes dad and mom ought to have the fitting to make their very own resolution on whether or not to ship their youngsters to highschool with a masks.
He stated dad and mom who favor masks could be simply as upset if the governor pressured their youngsters to go to highschool mask-less. “We should all be supportive of parental choice,” Orlando stated.
Orlando, a married father of three, stated his youngsters go to highschool with masks with the exception of his oldest daughter who has a medical exemption, signed by a pediatrician.
His views differ from the opposite six candidates working for the Board of Education on this November’s municipal election, together with these in his personal celebration.
The Sun interviewed all of the candidates, so households who’ve been grappling with points in the course of the pandemic can study the place they stand.
Dennis Condon, a Republican working for the Board of Education, and incumbents, fellow Republicans Christina Cascella and Jeff Fulchino, level out that Monroe public colleges are beholden to the State on many points, together with COVID pointers.
“We’re following the governor’s executive orders,” Cascella stated.
Jerry Stevens, a retired instructor and incumbent Democrat serving on the Board of Education, additionally famous the constraints on native resolution making.
“I don’t think people understand, when you’re elected to any Board of Education in Connecticut you’re governed by the State Board of Education,” Stevens stated. “You’re an extension of the State Board of Education. It’s like an unfunded mandate. Right now, the governor said through Feb. 15 there’s an executive order for masks to be worn.”
Theresa Oleyar and Chrissy Fensore Martinez, two fellow Democrats working for the Board of Education, each favor masks.
“I look forward to the day when my children don’t wear masks in school, of course,” Oleyar stated. “But when I see that my children’s own pediatrician has increased PTE recently with an uptick in breakthrough cases, that’s who I’m going to trust that masks and other PTE are effective in reducing the spread of the coronavirus.”
“The priority has been to make sure everybody safe,” Oleyar stated. “Personally, I’ll proceed listening to all of the stakeholders. This consists of individuals with a
completely different opinion than me. I’ll take that into consideration, however on the finish of the day I’ll take heed to our medical professionals and each our State and native administration — and I’m going to comply with their lead on that.”
Oleyar served as a mother or father consultant on the Distance Learning Committee, at first of the pandemic, and on the Reopening Committee.
“I think Monroe’s done a great job,” she stated. “All our meetings, the amount of effort and work our district put in to make an impossible situation work, it’s really amazing.”
Keeping youngsters at school
Martinez attributes masks and isolating with stopping the unfold of COVID-19 in her family final 12 months — as soon as when her stepson had it in November and different time when she and her husband, Jim, bought it on Christmas.
Martinez favors following the rules really helpful by the specialists within the Monroe Health Department, the Connecticut Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — all who suggest that youngsters put on masks at school.
She additionally desires the district to proceed following the steerage of Dr. Nimrod Dayan, who focuses on pediatric infectious illness and serves as a medical advisor for Monroe public colleges.
“It’s not really an opinion issue,” Martinez stated of parental selection on masks. “It’s what the experts tell us to do to keep our kids safe. To me, this isn’t a political issue. It’s public health. I’m not a doctor. I rely on the doctors and the medical professionals.”
Condon stated the CDC and World Pediatric Association suggest carrying masks. “Prevention is a good thing,” he stated.
“Medically, they’re effective if they’re done right — N95 masks,” Condon stated. “But with cloth, you yawn and it can get through. It’s effective, but it’s not perfect. Nothing’s perfect.”
“If you do things in an effective way, it reduces the numbers,” Cascella stated of new circumstances.
Fulchino and Cascella stated there desire wouldn’t be for carrying masks, however they comply with the suggestions of the specialists.
“We have a team that analyzes the data,” Fulchino stated. “We have experts in place that we rely on at a local level to make decisions. If the decisions were at the local level, we would rely on the experts as much as possible.”
“No one on the board is an expert,” Cascella stated.
If resolution making was on the native degree, Cascella and Fulchino stated there would nonetheless be an emphasis on having youngsters studying at school 5 days every week.
“It’s about stability,” Fulchino stated. “I have two kids, who were in second and fourth grades last year. It was very difficult at the elementary school level for them to be socially and emotionally connected. At that level, they learn best in person.”
Both Condon and Stevens famous that the Board of Education’s purpose is to make sure the district supplies the perfect schooling in a protected studying surroundings.
‘People aren’t used to this’
Martinez stated there are various policies to maintain youngsters protected within the city’s colleges, the one place the place a whole bunch of college students collect for a number of hours a day, so she doesn’t perceive why there may be opposition to college students carrying masks.
“In schools we have children who are significantly at risk,” Martinez stated. “We’re educating kids with medical conditions and other special needs that put them at a higher risk, so I’m wondering how it’s become such a divisive topic, when it’s a simple measure to make kids safe.”
As of September, 520 youngsters died from COVID-19 within the U.S. and nearly 25,000 youngsters have been hospitalized from it, in response to The American Academy of Pediatrics. Martinez famous that not each State’s numbers are included in that calculation.
“Everyone focuses on the percentage and not that those 520 children are somebody’s baby,” Martinez stated. “I’m surprised over the lack of empathy. I don’t want to gamble with children’s lives.”
“We know through real life data that COVID did not spread in schools with masks and in other schools without masks it did,” she stated. “I think the Supreme Court ruled that public health overrules individual choice. You can’t just walk into a school and do whatever you want, so I don’t how why this particular topic changes that.”
Orlando stated he understands the preliminary response to masks up early within the pandemic, when the nation didn’t have the solutions. But now that there’s extra information and research, be contends it isn’t mandatory for youngsters to put on masks.
“Statistically, we know children are not at high risk for COVID and they’re also not high vectors of transmission,” Orlando stated. “You look at the European CDC and the UK and they recommend not masking school children.”
According to a research on the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control web site, mitigation measures to forestall the unfold of the coronavirus in colleges consists of “face masks in certain circumstances and for certain age groups.”
“In Britain, Young Children Don’t Wear Masks in School,” an article printed in The New York Times on Aug. 27, 2021, says:
And they dealt with the Delta spike in ways in which may shock American dad and mom, educators and lawmakers: Masking was a restricted half of the technique. In truth, for essentially the most half, elementary faculty college students and their academics didn’t put on them in lecture rooms in any respect.
Instead, the British authorities centered on different security measures, widespread quarantining and fast testing.
Orlando stated face masks have an effect on youngsters socially and pointed to a Hartford Courant article, printed on Oct. 6, 2021, in regards to the quantity of youngsters searching for pressing behavioral well being care in Connecticut tripling for the reason that summer time.
Condon recalled how the nation battled polio many years in the past, earlier than a vaccine created immunity. “No one thinks twice about the polio vaccine,” he stated, including of the present pandemic, “people aren’t used to this.”
Stevens stated he believes within the medical professionals, including he acquired each of his vaccinations and plans on getting the booster shot when it’s out there to him.
Orlando stated his job mandated that he get the COVID vaccine. “I would have chosen not to be vaccinated,” he stated.
He stated different ailments will be eradicated with vaccines, however COVID-19 can’t be, as a result of it can be transmitted by animals.
“I think mandating that people take medicine is not the right thing to do,” Orlando stated, including of the COVID vaccines, “if it’s not stopping it, what’s the point?”