Missouri teachers have been used and abused time and time again during this pandemic and now it seems like Governor Mike Parson has a plan that would put them even more in danger than they already were during this pandemic.
As COVID-19 cases surge in Missouri to the point where hospitals are having to turn away ambulances, there is only one idiot in power in this state who thinks that safety restrictions should be lowered and that idiot is Missouri Governor Mike Parson.
Across the state, many colleges are starting to shift to all-virtual learning. The University of Missouri, for example, is protecting students by switching to remote classes after Thanksgiving. But in a press conference Thursday, Parson announced new voluntary guidelines for K-12. Under the terms of his new policy, teachers who know they've been exposed to COVID-19 shouldn't take time away to make sure they're not spreading the virus, they should just march right into the classroom – as long as everyone involved is wearing masks.
In the press conference yesterday, Governor Parson said, “We know that COVID-19 is not going away soon, so it is important that we continue to evaluate the guidance we’re issuing at the state level to make sure our procedures are sustainable for the next several months… Today, we are announcing wearing a mask may now prevent individuals from being identified as close contact in K-12 schools.”
As the rate of COVID-19 infections in Missouri rises to terrifying levels, schools have been crippled by teachers and students having to skip in-person classes for two weeks if someone they were in close contact with tested positive. Now Governor Parson wants to change all of that not by slowing the spread of the virus, but by loosening virus protection protocols at schools.
Teachers have already had to tolerate a number of indignities this year, from being insulted by parents for what the school districts decided to do with online learning to risking their lives for months to educate the precious little Kayleighs and Jaxons of the world in person, even if they were considered high risk, themselves.
But now instead of moving to protect and support overworked teachers, Parson says it’s totally fine for recently virus-exposed teachers and students to come back to school if they wore masks during the exposure and wear a mask when they return.
Wait a damn minute. Did this jerk just admit that masks can help to prevent COVID-19 transmission? Well, well. That’s rich coming from the guy who has refused to issue a state-wide mask mandate during this entire fucking pandemic.
Since this whole pandemic thing kicked off way back in March, Parson has left the decision-making about mask ordinates to local authorities, often urging residents to "take responsibility" in place of government action. This has resulted in haphazard mask usage across the state, which means that Missouri never actually makes any gains in wrangling the virus, it just hops around from town to town instead of being eliminated.
But Mike Parson can’t issue a mask order because he apparently has some kind of crush on Donald Trump and wouldn’t want to disappoint Trump by actually making moves to protect his own constituents. [*Whispers to Parson*: “Your boy lost. Badly.]
It seems that Parson does understand that masks prevent COVID infections, though. That’s why he wore one when he went on a tour of Missouri veterans’ homes right before Parson, himself, was diagnosed with COVID-19. Then the veterans' homes that parson had recently visited experienced major outbreaks and deaths. We’re not implying anything here, we're just sayin’. (Parson does seem to have a fondness for endangering the lives of elderly veterans, though.)
Parson continues to avoid his responsibilities to protect all Missourians including the ones who won't wear masks to protect their fellow citizens. Their grandparents were shipped off to war and died to protect our people, but they don't want to wear a piece of cloth over their faces in a Walmart because they're special snowflakes with very important feelings.
But teachers? Apparently their feelings and safely don't matter.
Now after everything inevitably goes to hell, Parson gets to say to his base “Well, I was on your side. I chose your precious wittle baby feelings over the safety of everyone in Missouri. You’re welcome.”
Just because he's scared of unpatriotic anti-maskers, Parson has continued to avoid setting a statewide mask mandate while now also making sure that COVID-19 infected schools stay open and ready to spread the virus to our children and educators. Teachers have died of COVID-19 in Missouri. How many more lives does Parson need to lose before he makes a change?
It's like lighting your own house on fire and then complaining that you smell smoke. In fact, Parson’s recent advice about exposure in grades K-12 is so fucking bad that health officials, school leaders and mayors are telling their schools to ignore everything that he said.
Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas said this in a statement yesterday:
“Based upon the advice of our Health Director and given the increasing uncontrolled spread of COVID-19 in our community, we respectfully cannot recommend schools in Kansas City follow the updated non-quarantine guidance shared from Jefferson City today.
“Masks continue to be one of the best ways to slow the spread of this virus, and I hope the governor’s acknowledgment of their benefit will encourage more to wear them. Still, masks are not a substitute for proper quarantine measures in schools or elsewhere—particularly as we’ve seen a concerning spike in cases over the past several months.
“As we have since the onset of this virus, Kansas City appreciates the discretion Governor Parson has given us to set COVID-19 protections fit for our community and that exceed the state’s guidance. We will continue to take seriously the recommendations set forth by our nation’s leading scientific experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As of today, CDC guidance regarding quarantine periods in schools has not changed, even when masks are present at the time of COVID-19 exposure. Kansas City will continue to follow that guidance.”
Mayor Lucas is right. Masks are like condoms: You have a much better chance of not catching or passing something if you’re wearing one, but they’re not 100% effective. (Especially if you or anyone near you is wearing them incorrectly, dicknose.)
The Missouri Center for Public Health Excellence, an organization dedicated to improving public health in Missouri, spoke out against Parson’s new guidance, too, releasing a statement that reads:
“In response to Missouri’s announcement regarding the use of masks in schools and quarantine. The members of the Missouri Center for Public Health Excellence will study this recommendation carefully. We do strongly agree that vigilant and comprehensive mask wearing can prevent transmission and we certainly understand the impact of quarantine on children. However, the CDC has not changed their guidance and it is important to consider the impact of this carefully when you are taking actions that are less stringent than those recommended by CDC. The current literature to support this recommendation is very limited and our health departments are currently seeing transmission even with the use of masks.
Across the state of Missouri local health departments have data showing cases of child to child, child to adult and adult to child transmission in schools. This is even occurring in schools with mask mandates. We cannot ignore the risk of a child becoming asymptomatic and taking the virus home to family members, some who may be high risk for hospitalization or worse.”
The St. Louis County health department isn't taking Parson's advice, either, and says it will continue to require a 14-day quarantine for any student of staff member who has been in close contact with someone who has tested positive.
Now as St. Louis City and County are announcing greater restrictions on gatherings, dining and activities in an effort to curb virus transmission, Parson seems to be basically saying that the schools should be a free-for-all where administrators should reduce protections at the exact same time that the virus starts rolling like a tsunami across his entire mismanaged state.
While teachers and schools are struggling to maintain staffing as quarantines upturn classroom routines, Governor Parson seems to not give one fuck about protecting the lives of Missouri students, teachers, school staff and the local nurses who will have to deal with it all. Instead, his attention is focused on the special session he called to upgrade “COVID-19 liability protection” in an attempt to “re-open the economy.”
Hey, Parson! Newsflash: The economy is suffering because we are suffering. When we die, the economy dies, too. Missourians can’t go back to work or spend any money if they are sick or dead.
It’s not that complicated. Take care of the people first and make sure we’re alive and healthy the rest will follow. Missouri needs a mask mandate. Now.
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