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News flash: We are in the midst of a deadly, once-in-a-century pandemic. More than 600,000 Americans have died a horrible death, gasping for breath in a crowded hospital room with no family member there to comfort them, no family member to hold their hand as they die.
Yet, there are millions of people who refuse to be vaccinated and who vigorously protest any effort to mandate masks or vaccinations. They try to intimidate those who disagree with them, and even when they are a minority, they often succeed by their bullying tactics. Even when they are a majority, should their right to be free of masks and vaccinations take precedence over the rights of other parents who want their children to be safe from a deadly virus? I think not.
The Los Angeles Times reported stories that could easily be replicated in many other school districts:
The American Academy of Pediatrics recently urged the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to authorize COVID-19 vaccines for children under 12 as the Delta variant “created a new and pressing risk to children and adolescents across this country.”
But differences of opinion have led to aggressive confrontations at some school board meetings.
In Asheville, N.C., a few dozen parents opposing Buncombe County Board of Education’s mask mandate forced the board on Aug. 5 to call a recess, then “overthrew” the board and declared themselves the new leaders of the county’s public education system.
In Franklin, Tenn., a crowd of angry parents shouted, “We will not comply!” at a board meeting Tuesday and threatened public health officials who supported mask mandates.
Britt Maxwell, 43, a parent and internist who treats COVID-19 patients in Nashville, was left shaken after attending the board of education meeting in Franklin and finding that those who supported wearing masks were outnumbered about 10 to 1 by a raucous crowd of anti-maskers.
Maxwell said a mask mandate in Williamson County elementary schools was a no-brainer with Delta surging. His two children, ages 7 and 11, are not vaccinated. “The facts are clear,” Maxwell said in an interview. “This isn’t hypothetical. Children are getting sick, now more than ever, and hospitals all across the South … are being stretched to the limit.”
He and other healthcare workers were booed by a crowd that chanted, “No more masks,” and carried signs reading, “Your fear does not take away my freedom” and “Let kids be kids. No mask mandates.”
As Maxwell and his wife left the meeting, a woman called him a traitor.
“My colleagues came with facts and statistics; nobody wanted to hear that,” he said. “They treated us like the enemy and that couldn’t be further from the truth. We were there for the same reason as them — we want to protect the children, including their children.”