Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Pulling strings on school masks

| April 16, 2021 1:00 AM

The little protester looked up at The Press reporter and asked, “Why are you wearing a mask? They don't do anything.”

“I want to be courteous,” said the reporter. “It’s my choice, right?”

"Yeah," the little protester said, and walked away.

Inside Coeur d’Alene schools, wearing a mask hasn’t been a choice during the pandemic. That’s at least part of the reason a pack of perturbed parents protested outside an unrelated disciplinary meeting at the school district’s headquarters Monday, enlisting some of their children to help drive the message home.

There is nothing new here behind the sentiments expressed by the 70 or so protesters. You have heard their speeches and preaches for as long as governors, city council members, health district trustees, and yes, school board members have dealt with the greatest public health threat of our lives.

Poke holes in the decision-makers’ science or logic or perceived patriotism as much as you like, but in every case, the decision makers have tried to err on the side of keeping people safe. School kids. Their parents. Their teachers. The old woman in the grocery checkout line.

Coeur d’Alene School District owes nobody an apology. In the face of fierce public opinion that's run about 50-50 — patrons believing the board was going too far or not far enough — trustees have done their best to keep their charges healthy. In our view, that merits gratitude, even if one disagrees with their decisions along the way.

And now we’re at another threshold. On Monday, the school board is expected to decide whether or not to continue requiring students to wear masks.

Watching the daily Panhandle Health District updates and other sources, COVID-19 has steadily lost ground here. Post-spring break positive tests are seeing some upticks in the community, but there’s no indication a surge or other serious threat awaits at school district doors.

Be that as it may, Coeur d'Alene School District has been rigorously following the guidance provided by public health officials, including PHD. A strong argument could be made that until that guidance changes, the district should maintain its course.

Whatever the school board decides Monday, a welcome reprieve is quickly approaching. We'll all have a full summer to take a deep collective breath.