Yesterday – being fed up with mask mandates and wanting to get back to some sense of normalcy, approximately 95 students at Central High (Woodstock), Strasburg High School, and whatever they now call Stonewall Jackson HS near New Market – protested the mask mandate passed down by the Shenandoah County School Board last week.
Most people know that masks are at best not very effective, and often cause more problems than they solve. However the Shenandoah School Board, which is out of touch with the majority of their constituents, decided to require masks to be worn by all students, whether or not they’ve been vaccinated, regardless of any health issue they may have. Virtual learning is not an option here, so the kids must now wear a mask or they can’t attend school.
The largest protest group was at Central High, where local conservative activist Sabrina Schnibel helped organize the rally. Slightly over 50 students participated in the walkout at Central. Somewhere in the Heavens, George Washington, John Adams, Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, et al are smiling at the students of Shenandoah County, who wanted the rest of Virginia to know that mask mandates are unfair and unconstitutional.
Conservative School Board candidates Kyle Gutshall, Brandi Rutz, and Dennis Barlow have all spoken out against this bizarre policy. Dennis Barlow (District 1 candidate) issued the following press release:
School Board Candidate Barlow’s Statement on Shenandoah Schools’ Mask Mandate
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 8, 2021
Contact: Dennis Barlow
1st District School Board Candidate Dennis Barlow’s Statement on the New SCPS Mask Mandate
NEW MARKET, VA – Dennis Barlow, candidate for School Board for the 1st District of Shenandoah County, issued the following statement today regarding the announcement by Shenandoah County Public Schools’ that children will be now be required to wear masks at school.
“The issue of the sudden and dramatic reversal of the COVID-related masking policy just two days into the school year sent shock waves across the county. The decision followed close on the heels of a surprise announcement at a press conference by Governor Northam last Thursday in which he said, “The CDC guidance is that people in schools need to be wearing masks. That law [SB 1303] was passed by a strong bipartisan vote of the legislature, and I expect school divisions to follow it.’”
“There are at least four major problems with this statement. First, we must realize that the CDC is not a legislative body. Its guidance does not constitute policy, and it cannot dictate or direct any government body to do anything unless specifically delegated to do so. Any guidelines developed by the CDC after the passage of Virginia SB 1303 would have to be reviewed by the legislature. The second problem is that while masks may help deter the spread of germs, in order for them to be effective against COVID they must possess certain qualities which only the N95 possesses in any meaningful way. Most so-called masks are woefully deficient and can best be classified as talismans rather than medical aids. Thirdly the bi-partisan aspect of the law is best explained by its patron, Senator Siobhan Dunnavant (R) who stated last Thursday that, schools are expected to “…follow CDC guidelines to the maximum extent practicable.” Translated – [we must] open schools and be adaptable to our children because in-person education is the most important thing. Mandates aren’t adaptable.”
“And finally, policy should not be sprung on the entire state education system in the midst of a press conference by a lame-duck governor who, in the absence of sufficiency in law or executive order, simply expresses a personal expectation.”
“The fact that the SCPS made a lightning-quick decision to implement a policy based on this flimsy verbal guidance is the more disheartening because of the recent and palpable stress visited on the students, parents, and teachers of Shenandoah County by the unavoidable COVID crisis and the totally avoidable school name-change debacle.”
“The education stakeholders in Shenandoah County are reeling. After last years’ woes, everyone was primed for an energetic and fresh start. Now it seems like we’re right back where we were one and half years ago, except now the anger and the angst are boiling over.”
“The “center of gravity” of our schools is offering a quality education which affords the opportunity for every student the chance to succeed in life. Pupils should not be moved about as wooden pieces on a political chessboard. They are looking for consistency and substance and instead we are running them through a confusing maze of ever-changing rules and restrictions.”
“Yes, there are medical challenges all around us. There always have been. Life does not come with an iron-clad promise that we will not suffer from illness – or failure, or stress, or disappointment. Our schools cannot protect every child from every possible threat. If we try to protect all from everything, we will wind up protecting none from anything.”
“Put the kids first. Let them learn; challenge them to excel and to achieve. We can and must provide a superior environment of health and welfare for our children – which does not include them continually re-breathing germs and bacteria into their respiratory system 6 or more hours a day – and we certainly can provide such a healthy school-space while meeting the core challenge of delivering our stated deliverable: a top-quality education.”
Kyle Gutshall (District 4) and Brandi Rutz (District 5) have also made statements on social media in support of the students and against the mask mandates. We need to support our children’s wanting to learn and have a sense of normalcy, and get rid of these Orwellian mandates coming to us from Richmond and an out of touch School Board in Shenandoah.