Editorial: Superintendent makes right mask decision

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 26, 2021

Just wear the mask.

Davie County Schools’ Superintendent Jeff Wallace has been taking a lot of heat recently when he decided that students should wear masks in school buildings. It didn’t help that only a couple of weeks prior, board of education members had voted to make masks optional.

Sure, it was his decision to make and his alone — but it didn’t happen that way. He consulted with staff, board of education members, health officials, and yes, parents. Virtual school for all students wasn’t part of the original plan going into this school year, so it’s more important to keep the number of cases of the virus as low as possible.

It was the right decision. It deserves all of our support, whether we agree or not. Our children’s health is at stake.

When you get down to it, wearing a mask isn’t that big of a deal; especially when the goal is to get the pandemic to end. Getting students to wear the masks is another story; heck, getting students to do anything is another story. It doesn’t help that too many of those students have parents and others at home telling them that wearing a mask is a bunch of malarky put out by overzealous Democrats trying to control our lives.

We’ve been doing that for generations, folks. And it’s not just the Democrats. That’s what good government does, it controls our lives. For the better. It’s up to us to decide when that reach goes too far. Requiring masks in school during a pandemic that is surging with dozens of cases among school-age students is not going too far. It’s common sense.

Did you wear a seat belt the last time you drove your vehicle? What was your reasoning? Was it because it was the law, and you didn’t want to pay the consequences if you got caught? Or was it because you know that seat belts actually do save lives? There are instances when seat belts are the culprit in fatal accidents, but more often than that — much more often — they keep someone from flying through the windshield, which is never good.

It wasn’t that long ago that seat belts were our current mask mandates. Our freedom was at stake.

We’re all Americans, living in what we perceive to be the most free of all countries, so it should be a personal choice, right?

Wrong.

As Americans, we have differing opinions. I stress the word opinions. And we must, if we want to continue to thrive, to respect each others’ opinions. Remember, respect doesn’t mean agree.

Do masks really work? That’s debatable, and there’s good arguments on both sides, but common sense tells one that a mask of any kind has to help prevent the spread of droplets of spittle and whatever else comes out of our noses and mouths as we breathe, talk, laugh and play. Remember, masks “help” prevent the spread of the virus. Masks aren’t a gift from above that will make the pandemic go away and prevent anyone who wears one from getting or spreading the virus. It’s one of several tools — like vaccinations, and social distancing, and staying away from crowds and most importantly, our own common sense.

Take the heat off of Jeff Wallace on this one. How can you fault a man for doing what he thinks is best to help protect our children from a potentially fatal virus? I’m sure he didn’t make the decision for a financial or political gain — because neither exists. He knew the decision would be met head-on by an angry public. But he did it anyway, because it was the right thing to do. Kudos to Jeff Wallace for not bowing to misguided public perceptions.

Former Sheriff Andy Stokes liked to say about his drug prevention programs, that if they stop just one child from experimenting with drugs, they were worth it. The same goes for the masks. If they prevent just one child from receiving the virus, they are worth it.

Just wear the mask.

Mike Barnhardt is editor of the Davie County Enterprise Record.