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These school board candidates will protect student safety in Durango schools

The data is in: There's strong evidence students in Colorado attending schools with mask mandates have far lower rates of COVID-19 infections than those in schools without them (therefore fewer quarantines and forced switches to remote learning).

Masks are a key part of keeping our schools open for in-person learning. With vaccinations due to be approved for 5- to 12-year-olds by the end of October, the health and education of our kids and the safety of school employees should soon be on a better path. Until then, masking is the best defense available for our unvaccinated children.

Don’t be distracted by those motivated by political agendas or misinformation. The Durango school board’s responsibility is to follow science and data-driven recommendations from competent authorities. A misguided notion of “freedom” cannot justify endangering the lives of our children, their teachers and others.

I fully support the school board’s decision to require masks and hope they will also require COVID-19 vaccinations for children once fully approved. Some have suggested that parents should be the ones to decide whether their kids should wear masks or be vaccinated, but we don’t do that for any other serious communicable disease. Why should COVID-19 be different?

The health and safety of our kids and school employees is a responsibility of our Durango 9-R school board. I’m voting for Erika Brown, Rick Petersen and Andrea Parmenter because I know they will study the data, listen to the experts and do what’s right to protect our children’s safety and their educations.

Adele Riffe