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Op-Ed: Why I Support a Mask Mandate for Schools

The following op-ed is written by Brian Garner, a city commissioner in Union

I've lived in Northern Kentucky since I was 3 years old. I love this area and I love our community. I've had more conversations than I ever dreamed over the last 18 months of the COVID-19 pandemic discussing the balance of public safety and liberty, specifically on the issue of mask mandates in schools.

The federal government can't or won’t make the decision.

The state government can't or won’t do it.

City and county leaders can't or won’t do it.

We've ended at the most local level of government, the board of education.

How can we safely keep our schools open for in-person learning while minimizing unnecessary risk? What situations would justify these measures? Where will they apply? These are the questions we are asking ourselves every day.

Right now, our intensive care units (ICU) are maxed out and our schools' staffing is stretched thin. We have 21,000 students in Boone Co. Schools spending their days inside a building with other predominantly unvaccinated kids.

The way I see it, we can require our students to wear a mask while inside. This will reduce the transmission rate, this will allow us to keep schools open, this will directly reduce unnecessary pain and suffering that none of us wish on anyone else.

One advantage of this decision being made locally is that, as the situation changes, we can revisit the situation with masks. And we can change course accordingly. I sometimes hear people say we can dismiss public safety strictly because "the government" is asking. But in this case the government is made up of We the People who live in our community. It's our neighbors. It’s our friends. It's our family.

We want our schools open. We want our students safe. The local officials in charge of this decision are not trying to crush our liberty, they're trying to ensure the safety of our children.

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