Most school districts suspend mask policy

High School to keep masks for now.

54
Four out of five Martha’s Vineyard Public School districts have rescinded their mask policy commensurate with Island boards of health suspending their mandate.

Updated Feb. 18 

After hours of deliberation and public comment during Thursday’s meeting, which saw more than 215 participants, four out of five Martha’s Vineyard Public School districts (MVPS) voted to suspend their mask policy, commensurate with Island boards of health voting to rescind their statute. 

The Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS) committee was the only group to not pass a motion to suspend, which MVRHS Principal Sara Dingledy said could put the high school behind the pace of other schools in unmasking. 

Massachusetts Education Commissioner Jeffrey Riley announced on Feb. 9 alongside Gov. Charlie Baker and Education Secretary James Peyser that the statewide mask mandate would be lifted on Feb. 28, freeing up the option for local boards of health to eliminate their order. 

At Thursday’s meeting, following an extensive conversation of the All-Island School Committee (AISC), school districts broke out into their individual committees to vote on whether to suspend the policy or take no action until health officials remove their mandate. Either way, students and staff will need to stay masked until the boards of health vote. The AISC is an advisory body to the five Island school districts, and is composed of all school officials from those districts, which must vote individually on all official matters. 

Feb. 28 is the first day of school break for students, so the decision to unmask would not take effect until March 7, after the break concludes. Even then, boards of health will have to lead the way. There will be a few exceptions to when students and staff can take off their masks, according to Superintendent Matt D’Andrea, such as on the school bus, or in the health office, and any student or staff member who tested positive and isolated for five days must mask for five days upon their return to school. Individuals can also opt to mask, so D’Andrea said masking would be far from eliminated completely.

D’Andrea noted the school health and safety committee’s recommendation to wait until March 28 to lift the mandate, due to concern over an uptick in cases following school break, similar to what the Island saw after students and staff returned from Christmas vacation. 

The schools will keep their pool COVID testing program and their symptomatic BinaxNOW testing, and will continue to provide take-home tests to the school community. As of now, D’Andrea said, about 79 percent of students at the high school have provided consent for testing, but that doesn’t mean the participation rate is anywhere close to that. “We are working to get our participation rate closer to our consent rate,” D’Andrea said. 

Up-Island school committee chair Alex Salop said he has spoken with epidemiologists and public health experts, and said it is widely known that the omicron variant is the primary form of COVID being spread, adding that gestation time for that variant is typically up to three days, and kids have a much lower rate of infection. 

“It wouldn’t take a whole month to know if people brought back COVID to the Island,” Salop said. Salop was the first school official of the AISC to suggest following some other communities in establishing a threshold where if infection rates in the Island population go above 5 percent, the mask mandate would be reinstated.

AISC chair Kate DeVane said that in order to allow for an easy transition back into masks in schools, should the Island health boards vote to reinstate their order down the road, school officials should suspend the mask policy instead of amending it. This way, the existing (but not in effect) school mandate could be put back in place, instead of having to perform three separate readings to change the language in the policy. DeVane stressed that the most important thing for schools is to be in lockstep with the MVPS health committee and the Island boards of health. 

D’Andrea said Barnstable, Falmouth, Dennis-Yarmouth, Sandwich, Cape Cod Tech, and Bourne have all made masks optional for students and staff. Committee member Kathryn Shertzer said Nantucket school officials also voted to rescind their mandate, but at the time of the meeting, no vote had been taken yet. An agenda for a Nantucket Public Schools committee meeting scheduled for Feb. 23 lists an item on a “vote to extend school mask mandate in NPS.” 

Kiely Rigali, a member of the Massachusetts Teachers Association, said the union’s position is to not take a stance, and to instead support the decision of the school health committee and the local health boards.

Public comment was fraught with debate around the efficacy of masks, and whether there is any proof in the numbers. Parent Morgan Douglas said there has been little conversation about how the children feel in this situation. “This virus is kind of like a wildfire, even when we are doing all the right things,” Douglas said. “These children are actually terrified to communicate with other people when they don’t have masks. I think it’s time to give people choices, of course, but it’s also time to start living our lives again.”

Parent Lara Maciel noted that Island students have been playing sports against towns that have already dropped their mask mandates. She said her son is in third grade, and has to wear a mask during gym class. “He complains about coughing and having trouble breathing. He has asthma. I think the majority of people know in their hearts that masking these children is abuse. It’s time to stop this,” Maciel said. 

Karl Nelson, a teacher at the West Tisbury School, said students are unmasked during their lunchtime and are eating in close proximity to one another. He said from his experience, masking of students and teachers has caused “great collateral damage” to the social, emotional, and academic well-being of the entire school community. 

Tisbury School teacher and parent Nicole Shirley said she doesn’t like the fact that everyone has to be masked while in school, but she doesn’t find it to be traumatic. She said despite masks being an inconvenience, “there is good learning happening. Kids are happy and they are safe,” adding that the number of general airborne illnesses she sees in her classroom has dropped significantly since the implementation of the mask policy.

Island boards of health won’t have a chance to meet before February break, making the fact that the high school voted down suspending the policy largely a moot point. The MVRHS committee will meet again on Thursday, Feb. 24, at 5:30 pm to revote on suspending the mask mandate.

Updated with more information from meeting. — Ed.

54 COMMENTS

  1. What is the Island-wide policy today as for masks inside businesses (including the SSA) and have the health agents announced when the requirement for masks will end? And may I assume that each business owner may still require masks at their own discretion?

  2. There is an enlightening point about this debate among the very small minority of parents with children who are negatively impacted by wearing a mask in a classroom. Most children are fine with masks, even kindergartners. But it’s true that some children (and adults) rely on lip reading and mouth expression to fully grasp a situation that includes hearing, interacting, and learning. Earlier in the pandemic, some of these parents who argue vehemently here against classroom masks had no problem telling vulnerable adults, “if you’re scared, stay home”. Certain anti mask parents have been anti every single covid precaution. They’ve insisted precautions interfere with their (and their offspring’s) freedom to be selfish, irresponsible fools. Imagine if all the antivaxers and anti maskers had been responsible early on. Imagine if these antimask parents actually had empathy for vulnerable “scared” adults the way these selfish fools now demand we think of their vulnerable children. I do feel sorry for the small minority of kids whose learning is impaired by mask wearing, but I wonder how the parents of these kids would feel if the community simply resolved the situation by saying, “If your kid doesn’t like masks in school, homeschool them”. Most kids are fine with masks. They should come off when the numbers prove it’s advisable and not before. That’s what’s best for the community as a whole. But because of pressure from angry, impatient fools, the chances of taking off masks too soon is much greater than leaving them on a bit “too long”.

    A few years back I had to make the wrenching decision about when to euthanize my old, ailing dog. She had been shlepping along for some time, the vet had gently suggested I think about it, but I kept putting it off. I had read something a vet had written on the subject: It’s better to euthanize a suffering pet weeks too soon than a minute too late. I didn’t listen and my beloved companion died a terrible death.

    Good, properly worn masks can prevent death, needless suffering, and serious illness by helping to stop spread. This is fact. Better to leave masks on a few weeks too long than take them off a minute too soon.

    • Out if the last 100 deaths in our community, Covid makes up 1%. Of the previous 100, it’s 0%. There is no Covid carnage going on.

      • After a patient checks out of health care.

        Mayo Clinic – COVID-19 symptoms can sometimes persist for months. the virus can damage the lungs, heart and brain, which increases the risk of long-term health problems.

        CDC – Symptoms can happen to anyone who has had COVID-19, even if mild or no initial symptoms; reports of experiencing different combinations of the following symptoms: difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, tiredness or fatigue, symptoms that get worse after physical or mental activities (also known as post-exertional malaise), difficulty thinking or concentrating (sometimes referred to as “brain fog”), cough, chest or stomach pain, headache, fast-beating or pounding heart (also known as heart palpitations), joint or muscle pain, pins-and-needles feeling, diarrhea, sleep problems, fever, dizziness on standing (lightheadedness), rash, mood changes, change in smell or taste.

        But it should provide health cure quacks a steady source of revenue.

      • If wearing masks in public, including classrooms, saves one vulnerable person from dying, that’s enough for compassion people. I understand that one human life is not worth enough to some when they’re inconvenienced a few weeks longer than they want. If wearing masks in public prevents enough spread to lower cases and therefore prevent the long covid among the recovered, that also is reason enough to put up with masks a few weeks longer.
        You can give everyone all the same tools for helping not to spread covid, as we’ve been given, but you can’t make people care about others if they don’t have that capacity.

      • Alex– let me put something into perspective– I looked up the average number of people on a commercial airline.. Google says 39 —
        But let’s say it’s 100– About 2000 people die every day in this country FROM covid. That’s the equivalent of 20 commercial airliners crashing and killing everyone on board every singe day. Given that there are more than 10 million commercial flights per year, it would be unlikely that one would crash on the Vineyard. Is that acceptable to you ? Is it only about the Vineyard ?
        Do you ever wonder why 20 planes a day don’t crash and kill everyone on board ? It’s because of government regulations and mitigating risk.
        If we only had the common sense to deal with Covid in it’s early stages, we could very well have gotten rid of all masking restrictions last spring..
        By the way, I consider 2000 Americans dying every day from something that is quite preventable “carnage”.

        • The old “crashing airplane” line is tired and hackneyed and moves nobody except the people hauling it out to try to guilt and shame others. Approximately 8000 people in the USA die each day, or 800 of your fictional plane crashes. Are we supposed to get weepy about that or accept it as part of existence in planet earth? Are you angry that we don’t live in “Dontopia” where nobody gets sick, nobody dies, and we all dance among the flowers? And do the rest of us need to delay a return to normalcy because of this anger?

          • Alex– As long as you and Andy pull out the tired and hackneyed line about 8,000 people dying every day, and the number of people dying from violence in the “dem” cities, car crashes and overdoses, I will talk about plane crashes.
            The point it, that it is relatively easy to reduce the number of people dying form Covid. Get vaccinated, wear a mask and keep your distance– 3 simple things..
            We don’t have plane crashes because we do a few thousand complicated thing before every flight takes off, and we do not put planes in the hands of deranged individuals. We have laws about which side of the road to drive on, how fast you can go , and when you have to yield to other vehicles.
            Without those things, we would be having 500,000 people die on our roads every year. Without security checks at the airports, we might have many more 9/11 style attacks. Are you angry about being frisked at the airports ? Oh clutch your pearls and demand your “freedom” against unreasonable searches. And who cares if some more nut cases kill a bunch of people once in a while? Stay out of tall buildings..
            I’m not hoping for any kind of “Dontopia” ( but I like the term) . I am quite aware that we will not get to zero deaths from covid, anymore than I think we will get to zero deaths from car accidents. That doesn’t mean that I think we should exercise our “freedom” and drive like maniacs on the roads. Imagine me telling you that I want to drive at any speed I want, on whatever side of the road I want, and be free to put anything I want (like alcohol ) into my body, before I drive, or while I am driving, and you should stay off of the road if you don’t like it. Someone sounds angry here, but it’s not me..
            Get over it– Covid will be with us, and we have to deal with it.
            Having said that, I am for lifting the mask mandates on the Island.

          • Don- Funny how you lump me in reflexively with Andy- I’ve never met the guy and put you and him the same camp- sometimes I think the two of you make sense and other times I think you’re completely off track. I try to weight points of view on their sensibility, not whether they come from a “liberal” or “conservative.” I have never been anti-vaccine, and I don’t consider it an infringement upon my freedom to exercise basic precautions. However, I am firmly in the camp of the majority of the country who says “enough of bureaucrats making decisions that are out of step with the current state of medical reality.” There seems to be a strident camp who will never be satisfied until 100% of the people are safe 100% of the time and label anyone who opposes their point of view an anti-vaccine, anti-scientific racist/sexist/homophobic cretin. I’m glad you agree it’s time to lift the mask mandates on the island.

      • I curious, Jack Staurt. Why do you think people get on here with fake names? It’s such a cowardly, nasty, and dishonest thing to do, wouldn’t you say? It’s really rotten to try to pull one over on the moderator and the rules for commenting. Would you agree?

  3. Interesting that during this meeting, no health care providers were invited to speak, no substantive data to support continued masking was presented, and very few members of the public had an opportunity to comment. Yet the MVRHS school committee voted to continue masking.

    I distinctly dislike finding my position aligning with dogmatic anti-maskers, but here we are.

  4. Sounds like the ultimate decision to remove the kid’s masks-who are the least vulnerable population among us-has been deflected back to the all powerful Island Board of Health. We all know-from the November 5th meeting-the Island Board of Health takes its guidance/orders from just three people; sumner resident Epidemiologist Michael Stoto (faculty member at Georgetown University and Harvard’s school of public health) Island physician Dr. Henry Nieder (who believes the island population is 25,000 although has zero evidence to support this hunch) and Dr. Gerald Green (a retired physician who serves on the Aquinnah board of health)

    So depending on their “scientific outlook” and of course their personal schedules/availability as one or more may be on vacation next week so getting that zoom meeting nailed down might take some time, we’re all going to walk around wearing these ridiculous masks and the kids are going to have to just deal with it a bit longer.
    Apparently a major increase in testing resulting in daily positivity cases in the single digits just isn’t enough for the board of health to make their own independent logical decisions. And by the way, Omnicron isn’t all that deadly. Of course with all due and genuine respect for the one local COVID death we recently had here at MVH.

    • You forget that the healthy but infected kiddies spread infection to the most vulnerable at home and everywhere else they go. What’s your hurry? One island death and uncounted long covid cases aren’t enough to make masks in school worth your while for a few more weeks? Omicron IS all that deadly to the over 2000 people still dying every single day. Those “ridiculous masks” continue to help stop spread.

  5. It does not surprise me that the High school is the only one not to be able to see the facts. This school board does not seem to be able to see any facts and instead like to go by feelings. They do not care about budgets and the impact on taxpayers so why should they care how masks make an impact on the kids.

    • Bob, your supposed facts are based on people get sick and tired of mandates, even though the actual science proves that masks, vaccines, testing, and the social precautions work. There are links provided that show these facts and these facts certainly do warn against removing mask mandates too soon. Every expert gives the same warning. Did you have a link giving facts that being cautious a bit longer is unnecessary? I didn’t think so. Just the opposite is fact. While selfish impatience and lack of familiarity with actual science may “feel” like facts to some, the science doesn’t agree. The minute numbers start dropping, the impatient and empathy-challenged start screaming about wanting to drop masks NOW. Being on the side of scientific fact is more helpful to the community than siding with the antivaxers, anti maskers, horse tranquilizer users, and woo-woo lunatic conspiracy nuts. Why anyone would take the same stance as those idiots is illogical. Look at the science, not what people want to do because they’re sick and tired of masks.

  6. Elections matter. We need to purge these knuckleheads who have been abusing our children for almost 2 years now.

  7. “Never argue with stupid people, they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience.”
    Mark Twain

    • Phil– good advice unless your life or the lives of others is on the line.
      Stupidity kills, you know– especially in a pandemic.

      • Don, you fought for the right to wear a spaghetti colander on your head for a MA state license photo. And you were remarkably given that option. Here, you’re fighting for the right to keep masks on children, even against their parent’s desire. Freedom for you when you frivolously wanted it but to hell with others when it matters. Way to go buddy. And lastly, political sides have zero to do with any of this. No need to shoehorn your Rupublican vs Democrat squabbles here…talking to you too Carlos

  8. Risk of dying of covid is not high, especially if you are boosted and healthy. The risk of long covid is high. Dukes County has had 3,374 covid cases to date. It is estimated that 15-80% percent of all “recovered” cases will have “long covid”. Why would anyone want to expose themselves and their loved ones to months of illness if they could help prevent exposure by wearing masks a few weeks longer?

    “Long COVID—or post-COVID conditions—is a wide range of new, returning or ongoing health problems people may experience more than four weeks after being first infected with SARS-CoV-2. Even people who did not have any symptoms can experience long COVID, which can present as different types and combinations of health problems and can range in lengths of time, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).”
    https://www.ama-assn.org/delivering-care/public-health/what-doctors-wish-patients-knew-about-long-covid

    “These post-COVID conditions may also be known as long COVID, long-haul COVID, post-acute COVID-19, long-term effects of COVID, or chronic COVID. CDC and experts around the world are working to learn more about short- and long-term health effects associated with COVID-19, who gets them, and why.”
    https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/long-term-effects/index.html

    We’ve all been given the same tools to help prevent spread. You can either care enough about other people to use them, or not. It seems we are in the last weeks when masking up will do a lot of good, so why not?
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2022/02/17/covid-omicron-anime-nyc/

      • John, in all fairness, I failed to say that …15-80% MIGHT experience long covid… so some of your disbelief is understandable because “might experience” is not the same as “will experience”. I apologize for my error. Had you bothered to read the reliable sources, you could have seen those estimated numbers for yourself, but you sadly miss the point entirely. The risk of long covid should give people pause when it comes to taking off masks a little too soon. Better a little too late. Let’s say that only 15% of the recovered 3300 REPORTED case will deal with long covid. That about 500 islanders. Is that not enough human suffering to keep masks on a little longer to spare others?

        “Nevertheless, it is estimated that anywhere from 15% to 80% of patients might experience long COVID after recovering—even if they weren’t very sick in the first place. This leaves many COVID long-haulers with questions about symptoms and what to do. One physician aims to clear up confusion about long-haul COVID-19 and what patients can expect.”

      • Up to 15 percent survive clean, meaning residual symptoms can easily be endured; the top 20 percent endure symptoms that hinder daily function.

  9. I have to say you can certainly tell the difference between folks who make stuff up and the science makes sense folks. 90% or more of the country is immune from omicron. the rest of the state and nation is living again and the island vaxers and maskers choose not to live? fine don’t. but don’t take poor innocent children down with you. you’re stunting their development fact.

    • This is what I mean about which stance people want to take: science or selfish lies. 90% of the country is NOT immune to omicron and different areas have different stats. It may be in the 70s percentile nationwide. Antivaxers and anti maskers have made clear, through spreading lies, who and what they care about. It’s not science or the health of the community.

      • Hi Dr. Jackie I am in touch with medical professionals across the country who are experts on this as two people in my family are fighting cancer. so please, as I have not directed my comments towards you don’t direct yours toward me. my statements are facts. this is simple if we are vaccinated and we choose to mask great. if you choose to or not your choice but you are a masking bully and anyone who reads this thread can tell that. stop the madness save our children and let them get back to developing their lives in a world that now, right now our biggest threat is a variety that has become and really always was a cold. btw I don’t see an md at the end of your name so I will assume you have been educated on the internet and cnn. me, I choose to gather my information from medical professionals including, and you would be shocked high ranking doctors at MVH who believe as I do. yes they won’t tell you because they know how volatile vaxers and maskers can be. freedom is coming and we will finally see our children’s smiles again, playing in the school yard , developing, learning…. maskless

        • Dean, maybe you can answer this question. Why are so many antivaxers cowards, too afraid to use their real name when they post in a public forum that requires little from us, except honesty? What are these cowards so afraid of? Do you think there are many different people abusing the moderator and readers in this way with their cowardly dishonesty, or is it the same few who repeatedly make up a new name every time the old one is realized as fake? Isn’t it odd how new names, with no other online presence, appear out of the blue to comment at MVTimes, but then just as quickly disappear, never to be heard from again? Why is that, do you suppose?

          While I have your attention, I will repeat that your lie about 90% of the country being immune to omicron is, you know, still a lie. A big, fat one. Immunity is still believed to be about 73%, although experts hope that by the ides of March that number could go up to 80%. Do you need a link for that fact, or do facts not impress you? If you actually gathered information from reputable sources, you’d be able to cite and link these sources instead of making up antivaxer lies.

          Also, you don’t get to choose who or what I respond to.

    • Dean– I don’t know if you can tell when someone is making stuff up, but I can.
      And how do I have this amazing ability ?
      Well first, when what is being said has obviously passed through the digestive tract of a male bovine.
      And then, just to make sure, there is google…
      https://www.webmd.com/lung/news/20220217/omicron-immunity-estimate-us#:~:text=Feb.%2017%2C%202022%20%2D%2D%20About,a%20university%20health%20institute%20says.
      And could you please stop with the hysterics that the vaxers and maskers have chosen “not to live” ? It cuts a little too close to sounding disrespectful to the families of the million people who have already died. The 7 day average for deaths FROM covid in the U.S has only recently dropped below 2 thousand lives lost per day. Maybe some of them wanted to live, but someone who couldn’t care less about about the safety of others took that option away from them.

  10. Are you people for real? All those concerned folks who are worried about transmission can still wear masks if they CHOOSE to do so. They can mask their children as well. Curious how the teacher’s union never mandated vaccines for teachers/staff.

      • I would not console myself if a friend or family member were infected with an illness resulting in death or health concerns for the rest of their life because it was acceptable as a calculated risk.

        Do the favor to those you don’t know if they’re willing to sacrifice health and continue masking.

  11. 4 out of 5 schools are following the science. As is the rest of the country. The City of Boston’s proof of vaccination policy is lifted, effective immediately, after
    the following thresholds were met:
    – Fewer than 95% of ICU beds are
    occupied
    – Fewer than 200 C-19
    hospitalizations per day
    – Community positivity rate below 5%
    as a seven-day moving average

    • Bill, what ive noticed is that most people love being told what to do. In capable of making their own decisions and forming their own opinions. It’s become a world where you are the villain if you happen to think on your own or go against the mainstream push. I don’t know one educator that doesn’t see and hasn’t felt the negative impact wearing these masks has had on our children. Was it necessary in the beginning; yes it was. But we have tangible proof that the virus does not spread like wildfire in the schools. It’s time people became accountable for themselves and stopped blaming everyone else. If you want yourself or your kid to wear a mask; please do. I have no problem with it nor do most other people. But don’t force your politics on other people. Believe what you want to believe, but we all must be smart enough to realize what ever information we are being fed on either end is biased and tainted. Lions not Lambs.

    • Where is the science that says it’s fine to take off masks now?

      https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/when-is-it-safe-to-lift-school-mask-mandates/

      “There are a number of observational studies showing that communities and schools that have universal masking have lower rates of COVID-19 among kids in the school, and a couple of studies suggesting higher rates of transmission within schools that forego masking. And of course, there are many more studies in adults and kids in general — really, the preponderance of evidence supports that masks work, and they work for kids as well as for adults.”

      “Maggie Koerth: I’ve seen situations where things like masking mandates are working, but then case numbers fall and we get rid of masking. Is that really the way that we should be approaching this? Getting rid of the things that lower case numbers when the numbers are lower? Or is that just setting us up to have high numbers return?”

      “Megan Ranney: Let me make an analogy: We have decreased the number of car crash deaths on a per child basis over the last few decades by developing and using safety measures like car seats. But the fact that we have decreased the number of deaths does not mean that we should get rid of those things that we put in place to make death lower. It doesn’t mean we should stop using car seats!

      Most of the pediatric hospitalizations for covid are among the unvaccinated children.

      I cannot find any scientific study that equates masks on children with child abuse. That’s because it is not child abuse.

  12. Anyone who cites “the science” as though it were one thing is no scientist and does not understand science.
    The scientific endeavor is one of constantly questioning and testing hypotheses.
    Genuine scientists are constantly questioning and testing their own hypotheses and theories in the light of ever accruing data of various kinds. In the case of covid, the data collection aspect was always a dicey proposition because of constantly changing definitions and standard practices, for instance, changes that were made in long-standing practices for filling in the “cause of death” portion of the Blue Form. This caused a lot of confusion as to who and how many actually of died “from covid” as opposed to “with covid,” which the CDC finally acknowledged.

    Current evidence is that no purpose is served and much harm is done by masking children.

    In light of the strong data that the vaccinated carry viral loads as great as or greater than those of unjabbed, there is no logical rationale for any vaxx mandate.
    In light of these circumstances, people who feel vulnerable to infection and still think that danger lies in the unjabbed should probably stay home or wear an N95 mask, which has been properly fitted. Of course the jabbed with whom they share a domicile can also bring in infection.

    • Come on, Katherine, the antivax stance has been thoroughly debunked. Are you really still on the “with covid/from covid” kick? What’s the point of that?

      I’ll point out only 2 blatant lies in your comment:
      1. “No purpose is served… by masking children”.
      2. “There is no logical rationale for any vaxx mandate”.

      Your entire comment is redundant gibberish. (Logical rationale?) People cite science because that’s what we’ve been given from the best, most experienced scientific minds— not you, not me. People here don’t cite antivaxers because they are anti reality, whether or not they have any awareness of this fact. It’s against the rules to spread those covid lies here. Science gave us the tools proven to work— testing, social precautions, vaccines that greatly reduce death and severe illness, and masks. Before covid variants, vaccines greatly helped prevent infection. It’s impossible to overstate the damage and destruction caused by the anti vaccine culture of stubborn ignorance, selfishness, mooching off the responsible citizens, and ridiculous conspiracy beliefs.

      The variation on the tired, old theme of “Stay home if you’re scared” remains selfish, foolish, and an irresponsible, un-American shirking of one’s duty as a human being. It also happens to be unspeakably unkind toward the most vulnerable among us.

    • perfectly said. there is no scientific evidence that shows children wearing masks is advantageous in fact it stunts there psychological development. the maskers will tell you “but the little kiddies bring it home to their vulnerable older parents or grandparents” well be responsible and while home, in your own private home, separate the vulnerable and mask when necessary but for God sake save our children it isn’t too late but it is gone on too long their development has been stunted and they need to smile and interact and breath fresh air.. save the kids

  13. For those who care about science:
    The recent omicron subvariant ba.2 is easier to spread than the first omicron version off the assembly line..

    To those who do not:
    Someone in the grocery store said today there are three reasons they mask. 1) They have preexisting conditions. 2) They handle food. 3) Their spouse says it makes them look sexy. Please mask.

  14. The jabs from any of our resident antivaxer babblers about vaccinated people bringing home covid to those “too vulnerable” to go out are a good show of their cowardice, ignorance, dishonesty, and disdain for other human beings—the trademarks of those who spread covid disinformation. Whether these folks are believers in Trump-as-savior, Vineyard woo-woo lunatics, or simply narcissistic fools doing YouTube research, the believers and spreaders of false information are largely responsible for COVID’s carnage. Making a disease like covid to be a political badge of honor of one’s own prideful stupidly has been deadly.

    • This is almost a parody of lucid thought. So anyone who doesn’t subscribe to your Keep the Masks On position is an anti-vax Trump Supporter? Are you writing letters of protest to the Governor of Massachusetts? If not, you’re a hypocrite.

  15. So those who want to stay masked up for “just a few more weeks” can certainly stay masked up. If I’m reading this right, their debate here is wether the island is at greater risk than the dozens of states and thousands of towns/schools that have recently lifted, are planning on lifting, or never even had indoor mask mandates. It’s hard if not impossible to argue with folks who see COVID as the boogie man and live in constant fear. In time, these paranoid people will eventually see the error in their ways and rejoin society. It’s shameful to pass this hysteria onto the school children. Especially when the powers that be who make these illogical decisions have more authority in these decisions than the parents.
    And by the way, it’s peculiar how comments (although properly time stamped) are manipulated and moved around in a way to bolster the pro-masking side. Could that be chalked up to “Don” and his editing powers?

    • Paranoid is imagining someone is controlling comment placement.

      Paranoid is not what immune suppressed people need to do to stay alive.

    • Phil– put down the “Q”-aid.—- I have no ability to manipulate the time stamps on any comment here. I wonder if you can give us an example of comments that are being “manipulated and moved around” in a way to bolster any side of any argument.

      I assume you are referring to my “editing powers” where I accurately pointed out that I was in fact far from the first person to go off topic in a recent comment thread.
      Well, excuse me for being able to arrange things in chronological order even though they were scattered throughout the various comments various people posted.
      Someone lied about me–I called the lie.
      It’s not rocket science or a conspiracy—. It’s just clarifying what the truth was.

    • Phil– I will assume that you are talking about a recent story . where someone lied about something I wrote on the article about the first covid death on the vineyard. In case you forgot–
      Carl Kelly February 12, 2022 At 10:38 pm
      “Don, Please refer back to the article about the first COVID death reported on the island. You were the first person to go off topic. Hypocrite much? Lol.”

      So that was a lie– I don’t expect the editor here to look back and determine if a comment is a lie or not, so I defended myself.
      Am I just supposed to sit back and not reply when someone lies about me ?
      Would you ?
      Since I have the “power” to be able to arrange comments that are widely dispersed across many exchanges in chronological order, I did. Even the most dedicated “liberal hater” could clearly discern that I was in fact not the first person to go off topic. I called out the lie and I proved it was a lie…
      Nothing in my “manipulation” of those comments in any way bolstered anything about masking or not masking. Perhaps I am mistaken about what you are referring to, but the aforementioned incident is one of only 2 times I have “manipulated” comments.
      The other was in April of 2020 when I compared side by side a comments from a frequent commenter here and myself. But I am more or less forbidden to talk about that here.. Suffice it to say, I was defending myself against an alleged lie.

    • Yeah, funny how responses to anti-mask comments are aligned. Almost as if the one responded intended that. Simply, that is how a “reply” function is intended to behave.

  16. Have the people that are demanding we remain masked forever been off island? It may shock you, but there are places that havent had the mask mandates for months… I personally dont care if you wear a mask or not. Its your life. I just am still having a hard time believing in the efficacy of these masks. Its not like they prevented the spikes we have had… Where is the logic in masking someone who has had the disease and recovered? I see the comments about “selfishness” in wanting to unmask. The irony of them not seeing the “selfishness” of forcing your ideals on another is simply stunning. Everyone has had ample time to get their first, second, fifteenth jabs. Please turn of the cable propaganda and go breathe some real air… Maybe take a walk. Smile at people. Stop the anger and fear mongering. We are not in February of 2020. I miss seeing my friends faces. And your faces too.UNMASK MARTHA!

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