To the editor:
I am writing to you in regards to Gov. JB Pritzker’s masking mandate for PreK-12. I am disappointed that the governor had to make this mandate, not because I disagree with universal masking, but because an Executive Order was necessary. It was the responsibility of our local officials and leaders to vehemently correct misinformation, and their failure to do so, has forced the governor’s hand.
Although I do not speak on behalf of these institutions, I am a Kaneland D302 School Board Member and a tenured faculty member at Waubonsee Community College. My relationship to Kaneland and Waubonsee allows for a deep and significant connection to our community. As such, I write to you as a concerned citizen and parent.
What I am not is an epidemiologist or infectious disease expert. To make an informed decision I rely on those experts, as we all should during a public health crisis. When my grandmother had cancer, we spoke to an oncologist. When my wife and I were deciding whether to get the vaccine or to mask, we spoke to our family care physician. And when making decisions about public policy, I spoke directly to the Kane County Health Department director and assistant directors. Following their guidance, I voted down optional masking.
I caution those who think following these experts is somehow ’sheepish’: we all listen to someone, be it the media, friends and family, politicians, or experts. It is folly not to listen to experts and it is a gambler’s fallacy to think we know better because sometimes they get it wrong. Not all opinions are equal, and it is the sacred duty of leaders to adhere to expert guidance and recommendations – failing to do so is at best misguided arrogance and at worst cowardice.
Our community is saturated with cherry-picked and dishonest misinformation. Too often I hear people cite bogus claims like masks cause hypercapnia or that the vaccine is a government conspiracy. These conclusions are derived from falsehoods and not research (please note, that research is not ”Googling” something). If a person starts with the conclusion, and simply looks for the point that supports what they already think or feel, then they have fallen into their confirmation bias.
When our leaders say that children are unaffected by Covid-19 or that children death-rates are statistically insignificant when compared to adults, this is an “appeal to the worse problem” (fallacy of relative privation). It is a false equivalence (“apples to oranges”) to frame Covid-19 as not as dangerous as accidents or drowning. Using fallacies is a manipulative way of slipping poor arguments and faulty reasoning past the public.
Our leaders should not be looking for ways to find loopholes or get around public health and safety. CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky puts it best: “Children are not supposed to die.”
As long as we continue to make decisions based on what we wish reality could be versus what it really is, the governor and the statewide agencies will unfortunately, have to step in.