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Life

Letter to Dedre Stafford and the Mustang Public Schools Board of Education

I haven't posted anything in a long time but have been thinking about it for while. This seemed like a good thing with which to start back up. I sent this to the members of the Mustang Public Schools Board of Education this evening; it is addressed to Dedre Stafford, the school board representative for our seat:

Ms. Stafford,

I sincerely hope you take the time to read and give serious thought to my points in this email. 

I am a member of the district you represent on the Mustang Public Schools Board of Education and I request that you take action to rescind the ill-conceived mask requirements and return all students to full-time, in person instruction (allowing, of course, an option for parents who choose online learning for their child[ren]).

Like you, I am a former educator. I am also the father of 10 children, one who graduated in July, 8 of whom are currently enrolled in Mustang Public Schools, and one (hopefully) future Bronco. I understand that precautions were taken and plans were made out of the now cliche "abundance of caution" but as more and more data is available, it is clear that 1) COVID-19 is not the public health crisis we were initially led to believe, 2) requirements and mandates for mask use by the general public do absolutely nothing to stem the spread of infections of any type, and most alarmingly, 3) the mental health crisis being created by policies such as the ones for which you voted (i.e. A/B day schooling, etc.) is an actual and imminent danger to each and every child in Mustang Public Schools as are similar policies in  school districts across the country.

To the first point, I have been monitoring the Case Fatality Rate (CFR) in Oklahoma since March and has been in total freefall since May; it is currently at 1.19%. It is critical to note that the CFR doesn't represent the mortality rate of an illness, it represents the fatality rate among reported cases (when actual infection rates are considered, the mortality rate of COVID-19 drops by at least an order of magnitude). The actual infection rate of COVID-19 isn't known but based upon the available data, hospitalization and fatality rates appear to be approximately the same as influenza [https://swprs.org/studies-on-covid-19-lethality/] with the rates for young people being far lower than for influenza (for which we don't stop school or wear masks).

With regard to the use of face masks, I know that this point has been contested to the point of beating a dead horse, but I beg you to reconsider. I won't contest the efficacy of mask use by the general public in this message (even though it is premised entirely upon superstition and pseudoscience and unbiased studies prior to this spring actually caution against the use of cloth masks [https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/5/4/e006577]), but requiring children to wear masks during play or physical activity is directly contrary to the guidance of the World Health Organization [https://www.who.int/news-room/q-a-detail/q-a-children-and-masks-related-to-covid-19#] (as is requiring children under the age of 5 to wear a mask at all). Further, the psychological damage being done to our children is ill considered and very real. For example, in 2004, guidance was published for developing guidelines for wearing masks while working around children [https://doi.org/10.1007/BF03405126]; it notes that, "for children and adults who have been physically and/or sexually traumatized, masks may be experienced as especially threatening."

However, the most troubling and the reason I am writing to you is the third point. Our children are in imminent danger. Here are several examples of the imminent danger of suicide our children are facing:
• A recent report in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram noted that a "nearly record number of children have been admitted to Cook Children's Medical Center this month after attempting to die by suicide," (https://www.star-telegram.com/news/local/fort-worth/article245995275.html)
• During an emergency meeting of the Atchison County Commissioners to discuss the possible total lockdown of Benedictine College in Atchison, Kan., Dr. Linda Henry, the university's Vice President of Student Life stated that Benedictine College's mental health clinic had over 100 appointments during the first 2-weeks of school alone (https://youtu.be/BCY-Xqm1UfU?t=2479). It's important to note that the undergraduate enrollment for the entire school is only around 1,900 students; this means that more than 5% of the student body had some state of mental health crisis during the first 14-days on campus.
• In May, doctors at John Muir Medical Center in California reported that they have seen more deaths by suicide than COVID-19, saying that they've, "seen a year's worth of suicide attempts in the last four weeks" (https://abc7news.com/suicide-covid-19-coronavirus-rates-during-pandemic-death-by/6201962)
• In June, my 18-year-old daughter told me directly that she personally knew 3 people who had committed suicide since March.

This is not a perceived threat, this is a real and actual threat to our children which I hope that you would agree is totally unacceptable to ignore. The Mustang Public School District already has an alarmingly high rate of teen suicides and attempted suicides and continuing to vote against the mental health of our children is complicity in the death of any of our students who choose to take his or her own life.

Please, for the sake of our children, take action to return Mustang Public Schools to normal operations. I look forward to your response.

Sincerely,

Justin Karpilo