Unmask our children: Group takes plea to board of education
By Mike Barnhardt
Davie County Board of Education members last week were met with some upset parents and residents.
It started over a mask mandate for students and staff in all school buildings, and ended up with some of those at the monthly meeting of the board telling members not to teach critical race theory and to teach cursive writing.
Things went rather smoothly until near the end of the meeting, when lead school nurse, Lori Dingler, was explaining a voluntary COVID testing program. She was interrupted several times by people in the audience, shouting out remarks while she was giving her report.
“This is just a report, there are no questions from the crowd,” said board chair, Clint Junker. “If you want to leave, you’re more than welcome to leave.”
That didn’t stop members of the audience from commenting and asking more questions.”If ya’ll cannot stop, I’m going to ask you to leave, please,” Junker said.
Dingler finished her report, and board members closed the meeting.
But it wasn’t before they heard earfulls from the crowd.
Nick Gibietis got it started.
“We’ve got to look beyond the masks and look at the broader picture,” the Mocksville resident said. “How many school-aged children have died from Covid in the United States?” He answered his own question: 326.
“That means: more kids die from burns, heart disease, drowning, cancer, guns, vehicle accidents.”
One number up since Covid is the number of young people taking their own life, Gibietis said, adding that masking and social distancing create feelings of anxiety. “Stand up for what we voted you in for.”
Josh Richardson of Mocksville has children from elementary to high school age. “I’m tired of the politics taking over everything,” he said. “This plandemic – yes I said plandemic – it’s not a pandemic, it’s a political push and I’m sick of it. Ya’ll ought to know it’s nothing but frickin’ political. Those masks are a joke. The masks are making kids sick. “If you want to wear a mask, wear a mask, that’s fine. You have no right whatsoever to be masking my kids or anybody else’s because it is not your job to do that. You work for us, I don’t care what you say, Junker.”
Richardson said he coached a youth team from February to June, without masks, and without any incidents of Covid. “Why? Because the state wasn’t involved in what we did. Unmask the kids.”
“Leave the healthcare choices for our children to the parents,” said Ann Bean. “If you think we’re ignorant or not informed, then you have an enormous misconception of us. As parents, we think long and hard how to keep our children safe. We do it daily.”
Masks, she said, trap germs, making healthy kids more vulnerable. “They re-contaminate our kids over and over.” She said masks may be the reason Covid numbers are increasing.
“I’ve lost faith in you people. We elected you to represent us and you’ve made it nothing but a hostile learning environment for our children. I have no faith in the people of this board and I believe we’ve come to the conclusion … the way we voted you in, we won’t make that mistake again,” Bean said.
“From what I’ve seen for the last year and a half to two years has really gotten out of hand,” said Charles Clayburn. Politicians and health officials are censoring “the other side of the coin,” he said. “How can ya’ll sit there and blatantly follow a one-sided science? I thought we were here to teach education, not hinder it.
“One of ya’ll said ya’ll don’t work for the people, ya’ll work for the kids. You are an elected official … by us.” Clayburn reminded members that with 10 percent of voters, a recall election could be held. He quoted Ronald Reagan who said government’s first duty is to protect the people, not run their lives. “Ya’ll should think about that.”
Joann Landry said: “Masks remove the child’s ability to see facial expressions and learn non-verbal communication, which is very important because if I want to tell you what I think of you, looking at my eyes is not enough.” She was the first to mention cursive writing and critical race theory.
Joe Caudle said he is proud to stand up for his grandchildren’s rights.
“If you can’t see what’s going on in this country today, with all these mandates, dictates, lockdowns, house arrests … you must be living under a rock at what they have planned for us. BS, it’s every day, everywhere. If you can’t see it, you’re a fool.” Covid is real, but the reaction by the government is a farce and tyrannical, Caudle said.
“More kids die of pneumonia (than Covid),” Caudle said. “I’m tired of this BS. I’m tired of the masks. I’m tired of the social distancing. I’m tired of the quarantines. This is BS, crap, and I’m tired of it just like everybody else here is.”
Caudle pointed out that board members were talking without masks before the meeting, but put them on when the meeting started.
“What ya’ll are doing to the kids is child abuse. If you can’t stand up for kids, resign. In any free society, there’s risks and responsibilities.” He quoted Ben Franklin who said those who will give up liberty for safety don’t deserve liberty.”
Children, he said, are being used as political pawns. “We ain’t going to back down. You do work for the people.”
“We need to put a stop to this critical race theory … teach English, math, the simple subjects, and leave everything else to us parents,” said Dwayne Rice. “You have no authority to teach them about race theory. You work for us, especially you, Junker. You’re the one who wrote me that email. You were elected by us, but you make the rules, so you stand up and do what we ask, or we can take a stand a remove you, vote you out.”
Schools superintendent, Jeff Wallace, opened the meeting by praising staff for a good opening of school.
As of Sept. 7, Wallace said there were active Covid cases among 43 students and 10 staff members. A total of 198 students were in quarantine, as were 10 staff members.
“I’m not gloating, but their (school districts without mask mandates) numbers were astronomical after four or five days.” He said 109 of 115 school systems in the state have a mask requirement.
The Covid numbers trend isn’t encouraging, Wallace said, pointing out that in the prior three days, Davie had 121 new cases, 27 percent of which were among children age 17 or younger.
Davie Schools is participating in a Covid testing project, strickly voluntary, Wallace said. “At no time will any child be tested without prior parental approval.”
“It is evident that students need to be in school. They learn best in school. We are better teachers when students are in front of us,” Wallace said. “Continue to partner with us as we continue to battle Covid. we don’t have all the answers, and sometimes the right answers today will need to be changed as we gather more information.”
Earlier in the meeting, the school nurse team was recognized for carrying much of the weight of Covid changes.
But things almost got out of hand when Dingler was giving a report on the voluntary testing program.
Quick, diagnostic testing at the schools can help in several ways, Dingler said. “We can reduce the risk of further transmission. We can protect the students, staff and others from transmission. We would like to increase family confidence in school attendance.”
This is when Junker gave his first statement to the audience. She went on to say the tests will be strictly voluntary, with signed parental permissions before any tests would be made on a student, or a signed form for a test to be done on a staff member.
There were more grumblings from the audience, and the meeting was quickly adjourned.