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Carroll County school board needs to listen to experts on COVID-19; Hypocrisy on display in Texas abortion law | READER COMMENTARY

School board needs to listen to experts on COVID-19

I am writing in response to the Carroll County Board of Education’s recent decision to ignore guidance from the Maryland State Department of Education and begin the school year without requiring students and staff to wear masks.

I am the parent of two sons who attend high school in Carroll County. My older son just turned 16 and was diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy when he was 7 months old. As a result of his health condition, he takes medication that leaves him immunocompromised. He attended school virtually last year because his medical team agreed that it was the only safe option for him.

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My son receives extensive special education services, and virtual school was far from the best way for him to make progress on his Individualized Education Program goals. As soon as eligible for vaccination, my son received his first shot. He did this to take care of himself and his community. My son endured over a year of quarantine and has been so excited to return to in-person school this year. His health makes him vulnerable to the actions of others in his community, but it doesn’t change his fundamental right to a free and appropriate public education.

In a meeting on Aug. 30, Board of Education President Marsha Herbert spent a lot of time talking about the various degrees and credentials earned by herself and her fellow board members. I attended college and obtained a degree in communications. I’m proud of my degree, but I’m even prouder to admit that I don’t know everything and that it’s OK to seek advice from others who have expertise in areas I don’t. I wouldn’t presume to tell Ms. Herbert how to ride a horse, and I hope she wouldn’t tell me how to write a press release. I ask the members of the Board of Education to put aside their egos and take advantage of the expert resources right here in the county they claim is the most special in Maryland.

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Heed the advice of local, state, and federal organizations that know masking is one of the simplest and most effective things we can do to slow the spread of COVID-19. Do the right thing for students like my son, who have done their part and now need the members of the Board of Education to step up and do theirs.

Christy Vadder, Westminster

A loss of faith in the school board

The Board of Education for Carroll County is charged with acting in good faith in

• the pursuit of excellence

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• a safe and orderly learning environment

• fairness, honesty, and respect

• priorities, beliefs, and mores of our local community

Further, they are supposed to enable all school staff to

• provide a safe and orderly learning environment for students and staff

• work to ensure that every child succeeds

• display cultural proficiency while respecting and appreciating diversity

• place priority on the educational needs of students

• support student success

• engage students in rigorous and relevant instruction

These words are from their own core statement, values, and beliefs. I have lost my faith in their abilities to execute these functions.

The board meeting Aug. 30 was particularly eye-opening for their level of incompetence and willful neglect of their duties. When their superintendent, their county’s health official, 70,000 pediatricians, and the bulk of this nation’s scientists advise them to act in a certain way in the protection of the vulnerable, at the very least they should pay attention. Instead, they referenced unspecified “science” without ever directing the public to the guidance. This does nothing to build community trust in their actions. In fact, because they continually ignore sound advice and best practices, I question their faithful execution of other safety and education matters for Carroll County Public Schools.

Their actions and words on Aug. 30 and the meetings before came more from spite than from actual guidance. They’d rather endanger the lives of children and discourage a safe learning environment than backpedal their prior rulings because an entity charged with oversight (not overreach, as they claim) for their functions has ruled in opposition to them. And so it is because of them that I no longer feel safe sending my vulnerable children to a top-notch school.

Carroll County is special, but not in the ways they think. Yes, we are resilient, but we are not superhuman. This virus can and will bring us to our knees if we allow it. Their rulings on masking, even when they know it will be overruled in one week, are opening the door to illness, disruption, and strife. Our kids and families deserve far more than they are offering them.

Niki Guinan, Marriottsville

Hypocrisy on display in Texas abortion law

Once again, I am outraged at yet another attempt to block women from legally getting an abortion. This in the same state of Texas in which 3,139 people are killed each year with guns. The same state which also has the highest deaths by guns in the United States. Where is the outrage regarding these deaths? And why would anyone want to bring another child into a state with such a distinction? Or into the United States, which in 2020 suffered 610 mass shootings and 43,500 deaths due to guns.

It is in states like Texas, Florida, Mississippi where people are protesting the wearing of masks with protest signs stating: MY BODY MY CHOICE. When our best medical advice tells us that the wearing of masks and being vaccinated is our best defense against contracting the Coronavirus.

I believe MY BODY MY CHOICE is exactly what women are claiming and why the Supreme Court decided Roe v Wade in 1973.

Patricia Roop Hollinger, Westminster

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