When our children are born, we silently vow to do everything we possibly can to protect them from all harm.

If that means making them do something they do not want to do, but is in their best interest, we do not even blink twice before doing it.

I read once that parenting is like reading a book that you will never finish, because you will be gone before the ending is written.

So, we do the best we can. Sometimes we get it right and other times we fail miserably.

Not many folks my age are in the unique position of raising a 12 (almost 13, as she keeps reminding me) year-old daughter. We are blessed to have her in our life. We thank God for giving us this opportunity.

Last year, when schools closed and did not return to in-person learning until the fall, it had a profound effect on her. The bright, giggly girl who woke up every day with a smile on her face suddenly became quiet and withdrawn. She stopped talking as much and often seemed fearful when we ventured out of our home.

I have since learned that she was not alone in her fears. Most school-age children were experiencing some of the same feelings of loneliness and anxiety. We were just lucky that she was old enough to articulate her feelings. The ones I worry about are the little ones who were not able to do so.

Thanks to a mask mandate, they were able to return to school last fall and complete the year academically. Her school drama club even managed to pull off a Wizard of Oz production, masks and all. The kids were so thrilled about being in their school.

Earlier this year, the FDA approved a vaccine for all children 12 years and older. We discussed this with her, and she was willing to get the vaccine if it made a difference in her being allowed to attend school in person.

This school year started with a mask mandate for one week. After a week with masks, the Scottsboro City Board of Education voted to rescind the mask mandate and made mask-wearing a personal choice. No reason was given for this change other than the vote changed.

When you are in junior high school, everything you wear, how your hair is styled and what kind of car your parents drive is under scrutiny because that is what kids do. I can only imagine how long she would have worn her mask in that environment if I had forced her.

Last week, we got our first letter saying there had been a positive case for COVID-19 in her grade. We were instructed to watch for symptoms but were given no more information, due to HIPPA laws, which I completely understand.

That very same night, we received a call stating the mask mandate had been re-instated and would be required through September 2. Again, for one week.

Ladies and gentlemen, we know what worked last year. We need to get it together here. The reasons for the flip-flopping are irrelevant. These are intelligent, educated people and this decision is a no-brainer.

We need the mask mandate so our children can stay in school. The number of cases in our area are rising and this disease is a real threat to our kids.

While searching for information about our schools on the Alabama Department of Public Health website, when you click on Scottsboro city schools, number of cases, it states ‘unreported.’ We as parents should know what that number is.

Think of it this way.

We make them put on coats to protect them from the cold and shoes to protect their feet. It is only reasonable to put a mask on their face to protect them from a deadly virus. By the way, shirt and shoes are both required in school.

Masks protect both the person wearing it and the people around them.

This is what we do know. As of August 27, 2021, over 500 children have died of COVID-19 complications in this country. We still do not know yet about the long -term effects if they become infected.

I realize these board members do not have an easy job. And we have seen what kind of treatment other school boards have received over mandates.

I get it. But when you are given such responsibility, it is up to you to make tough decisions.

The Scottsboro City Board of Education meets again this week.

I urge them to leave the mask mandate in place so our children can continue with in-person classes.

Masks are our best option currently and our children deserve the best we can give them.

Anita McGill is a former publisher of The Sentinel. She can be reached by email at anitamcgill99@gmail.com.

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