To the Editor:
Early voting is underway for the Wayzata School Board race, and there are three seats to fill. With hospital capacity concerns in the news daily and kids now making up the largest percentage of new COVID-19 cases in the state, I’m zeroing in on the candidates that are promising to follow the recommendations of leading public health agencies to safeguard the health and well-being of our kids and community.
Placing a high priority on keeping kids in school, candidates Heidi Kader, Dr. Milind Sohoni and incumbent Sarah Johansen stand out for their support of simple and common sense mitigation and safety strategies that prioritize in-person learning models and minimizing quarantines.
Superintendent Chace Anderson shared during the Oct. 11 school board meeting that our district has risen to a case rate of 44.8 per 10,000 residents. If we were still following last year’s learning model, our secondary schools would be in full distance learning and elementary schools back in hybrid. While it’s understandable that we’re anxious for things to get back to normal, it’s imperative that we continue a multi-layered approach to mitigation while case rates are high. Universal masking in our schools is a simple and effective strategy, with recent data showing universal masking reduces the number of kids in quarantine and is three times more effective at preventing outbreaks than going without masking requirements.
Some candidates are seeking to overturn the Wayzata School District’s universal masking policy. Using catchy phrases like “medical freedom,” these candidates show a fundamental lack in understanding of how masks work, putting our entire community at risk. Remember, my mask protects you and your mask protects me. An “anything-goes” policy on masking ignores the recommendations not only of Wayzata’s current school board, but also of the CDC, American Academy of Pediatrics, Minnesota Department of Health, Minnesota Medical Association and the Minnesota Academy of Family Physicians.
Candidates Kader, Sohoni and Johansen have indicated that they will support policies based on the recommendations of experts. Together, these three represent the best choice to safeguard the health of our students and families.