Physicians Urge Schools to Maintain Mask Mandates, Protect Kids

A group of Tennessee physicians this week responded to Gov. Bill Lee urging local school districts to drop mask mandates.

Here’s more from a press release:

“Mask requirements for our classrooms keep COVID out so our kids can stay in school, parents at work and most importantly, protect vulnerable children who do not have the option to get vaccinated yet,” said Dr. Amy Gordon Bono, an internal medicine/primary care physician in Nashville, who also holds a Masters in Public Health.  “And we know it works: counties without mask requirements have seen more COVID spread, leading to more kids getting sick, parents and kids having to quarantine, making it harder on local businesses and families.”

Dr. Sara Cross, an Associate Professor of Medicine and Infectious Diseases at the UT College of Medicine in Memphis, who also served on the Governor’s Coronavirus Task Force,  is concerned. 

 “The Governor’s announcement urging school districts to drop their mask requirements is premature, reckless, and frankly confusing to me as an infectious disease physician and mother.  This announcement completely contradicts the Centers for Disease Control’s most recent updated recommendations from just 3 days ago. All children should feel safe at school. It is the community’s and government’s responsibility to ensure this safe environment.  Children with special healthcare needs are at increased risk of infection from SARS-Cov-2. Rarely, a healthy child can develop serious infection or suffer grave consequences from COVID-19. The CDC recommends continued use of masks and social distancing in schools to keep our young unvaccinated population safe and healthy.  I hope that Governor Lee rethinks his hasty announcement.”

Dr. Diana Sepehri-Harvey, a family medicine physician  in Franklin who also holds a Masters in Public Health, responded,

 “Every time I think Governor Lee has shown all that he can for me to not trust him as a leader, he breaks his own record!  Our children under the age of 12, who do not have a choice to be vaccinated at this time, require all of us to remain vigilant to keep them safe.  Simply put, this means we get vaccinated and mask up for them, and kids continue to mask until they are eligible for vaccines.  As a physician on the frontlines, and as a mother of young kids, I am appalled by Governor Lee’s message today!”

“Masks and vaccines work together to help suppress COVID infections in our community,” continued Dr. Bono “Doing everything we can to keep the school environment safe from COVID infection helps make that environment safer, more supportive, and more stable for our children, teachers, and staff.  Masks for unvaccinated individuals, including children, are essential.”

Dr. Cross concluded: 

 “We should come together, across the differences used to divide us and reject the politicization of science and health that led to so many avoidable school and business closures and prolonged this crisis in Tennessee in the first place. Don’t we have a responsibility to protect vulnerable children who don’t have the vaccine option yet? That’s what mask requirements are for.”

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