The Logistics of Opening Schools in the Fall Is Challenging

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You do not usually get into controversial subjects on social media, but today was different. You have been working on a project with more than 130 volunteers to make homemade masks for one of the largest school districts in the state. The 3500 masks are for the staff and you hope that they serve as a show of support. And while you completely acknowledge that mask wearing is uncomfortable and not ideal, you are 100% in favor of doing whatever it takes to get students back in school this fall.
You do not like masks and you admit that you do not like wearing them. But you realize that this it is what the community can do right now to get to where they want to go. Until there is a vaccine or cure for Covid-19, everyone has to figure out how to live as normally as possible without overwhelming the health care system or putting the vulnerable at risk. So for now, you are 100% in favor of mandatory masks at school if that is what the school board and administration decide. They are making those decisions based on science and medicine. They are making those decisions because children are their priority. The teachers are their priority. The community is their priority. This is not a political issue. This is not a power and control issue. This is not an issue of freedom and first amendment rights. This is doing what everyone can do now to get life back to as normal as possible while taking care of each other. It is not 100% effective, but it us all you have right now. You are encouraging your friends and family to be kind and work together and do what needs to be done to get to where everyone wants to be.

Litigation Settlements Are Common Events in. Today’s World

The calm, and what you thought were logical, words you shared with friends and family were only the tip of the iceberg by the end of the day. You had shared your opinion with the local television station as one of the most popular reporters prepared to cover the local Monday night school board meeting. Set up to allow for in person speakers who were social distanced, the meeting drew many online viewers as well as the number of in person community members. And while there were a few speakers who echoed your support of the district’s mask mandate, the loudest voices spoke in opposition. Some spoke of being prepared to file personal injury litigation because their children had such anxiety over the thought of having to wear a mask; others threatened complex civil litigation if the district did not allow in person learning for families that did not believe in masks. It was a difficult and contentious 90 minutes, but the superintendent and the board were very careful to make sure that everyone on the agenda was able to present.

In your mind, however, the most sound argument was presented by the peer elected teacher union president who cited a survey that indicated as many as 40% of the teachers in the district indicated that they would not be returning to the classroom if masks were not mandated. The teachers, in fact, had asked their representative to clearly state that a mask recommendation was not enough.

And while the rest of the broadcasted meeting focused on the logistics of new safety and cleaning protocols that would be instituted, there were still two or three times when the threat of complex civil litigation reentered the conversation. Conversations about arbitrators and attorney fees, as well as the idea that complex civil litigation could make the year even more difficult than it already would be kept surfacing, but the superintendent was quick to point out that if all they did was talk about masks the looming pile of other work that needed to be done could not be completed. The nation could save 5,000 lives a year and prevent thousands of cases of respiratory and heart disease by reducing toxic air pollution from industrial plants, but the conversation about masks and the threat of complex civil litigation is not an easy one.

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