Letter: The canary in the classroom

Photo by Kelly Sikkema

Back in the early days of coal mining, miners used canaries to detect dangerous gases in the mine, such as carbon monoxide. If the canary died, that gave miners the heads-up to quickly evacuate the mine to safety. 

Today’s canaries are children and today’s coal mine is the unmasked classroom, equally dangerous and potentially deadlier.

As of this writing, the Delta variant of coronavirus is spreading like wildfire across the country, and notably, amongst the unvaccinated. The Ohio Department of Health recently reported that the unvaccinated now account for 99% of Covid hospitalizations, and 99.5% of Covid-related deaths. And according to the Centers for Disease Control, the number of children with Covid being hospitalized has been climbing since early July, on pace with the daily hospitalizations seen during the pandemic’s peak in January.  

As the Delta variant rages on, thousands of children are heading back to school across the country. In just the first few days of the school year, 10 Atlanta, Georgia school districts reported more than 1,000 Covid infections. 

As a parent of two young, unvaccinated children in Aurora’s public schools, I strongly urge our superintendent and school board to rethink the decision to not mandate the use of masks among this group of unvaccinated children. By refusing to mandate a common-sense, science-driven approach — to wear a mask that helps prevent the spread of the raging Delta variant — Aurora school leadership is unnecessarily putting children’s health at risk.

I’m pleading with you as a mom, as a parent, and as a fellow human being to put politics aside and focus on the common good. We can avoid the predictable outbreaks, quarantines and lost school time and protect the health of our children, families and community if we step up now and do the right thing.

Don’t let our children be the canary in the classroom.

Marybeth Keeler, Aurora

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