Some parents of the Ada Community came together over the summer to form the group “Ada Schools Unmasked” to petition against mask use and social distancing within the Ada school system. The group held protests in Ada over the summer and made signs to further promote not requiring masks in schools and to petition their demands to Ada schools. These outlandish demands, as found on the “Ada Schools Unmasked” Facebook group page, include:
- Not require masks for children or staff
- Not have partitions up in classrooms
- Have recess and not restrict movement to spacing
- Be open to all students at least 4 days/week
- Not force 6 feet social distancing
- Have the cafeteria and warm food available
- Have field trips
- Not have bus drivers wearing masks while transporting children
Ada schools have not cracked under the pressure from the group and are abiding by the mask mandate announced by Ohio Governor Mike DeWine. An update of the Ada schools reopening plan was released by Meri Skilliter, Superintendent of the Ada Schools, on August 4. This update states that students will be required to wear masks during school if Governor DeWine’s order is still intact by the first day of school. The group has not made a statement responding to the update.
“Ada Schools Unmasked” believes that it should not be up to the education system about whether students should wear masks or not, but rather up to the parents. If a student’s parent wants to take care of their child’s health, and the health of other students, then they should ensure their child wears a mask. Scientists are still learning about COVID-19 but have recently found “that children likely have the same or higher viral loads in their nasopharynx compared with adults and that children can spread the virus effectively” (CDC). Children spread germs and sickness easily within a school and every mask worn by each student, faculty, and staff member, will provide each individual against COVID-19. The person wearing the mask will be protected but because they are wearing their mask, others will be protected as well.
As a college student at ONU, it’s frustrating that we wear our masks each day to keep the community safe but parents in the community, and other members in the community as well, would rather avoid a safety measure that could be the difference between life and death. The ONU administration has worked tirelessly to ensure us students have a safe environment and that we follow social distancing. They have posted signs, created spaces for us to social distance, and provided sanitizing equipment when we walk into our next class. From a student’s perspective, it’s irritating that a university is putting more care into their students than certain community members are putting into theirs.
Walking in Ada, I see workers in restaurants and stores not wearing masks and I’m curious as to how people can oppose masks so much when our current situation is so similar to when seat belts were first introduced. People would cut the seatbelts out of their cars because they found it to be a violation of their rights but today people know that not wearing one could have a fatal ending. I wonder how a community member or an “Ada School Unmasked” parent would feel if their child were to not wear a mask and then come down with COVID-19 and spread it to others within their community.
I will say that I don’t like wearing my mask a lot of the time. Face masks can be uncomfortable, it makes my glasses fog up, and sometimes it’s a pain to remember to grab it in the morning before classes. Wearing a mask for hours on end can be annoying but I would rather come out of this pandemic alive and healthy because I wore a mask every time I’m out around people. I have several family members back home who are at-risk populations and I would rather say I did something to keep my family, friends, and strangers that I’m around safe, even if it’s as simple or as trivial as putting a piece of fabric over the lower half of my face. If scientists find in the future that masks did nothing to keep people safe, no big deal, the mask was just a minor inconvenience to my day.