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Area leaders display poor ideas on masks

Smithown residents rally against students wearing masks in

Smithown residents rally against students wearing masks in school at Smithtown Central School District headquarters on Saturday. Credit: John Roca

I cannot figure out what I am most horrified about after reading "Smithtown rally protests masking" [News, Sept. 5]. The photo tells it all: a tightly clustered mob of protesters without masks, some with their children, subjecting them to potential exposure to the virus as well as witnessing their ill-conceived arguments. They ignore that some children are succumbing to the coronavirus, especially from the more virulent delta strain.

The presence of local community leaders from the board of education, Town Supervisor Edward Wehrheim and State Assemb. Michael Fitzpatrick (R-St. James) demonstrated their anti-mask attitude rather than the welfare of their constituents.

More than 50 protesters may not represent the majority of Smithtown parents, who are inclined to do what is safe for their children, their teachers, administrators and staff, who are exposed to the virus every day at school. I say, let these leaders and politicians spend a day in a classroom, but they could be contagious and contribute to the spread of this virus .

— Thomas Olivieri, Smithtown

The Smithtown rally is dismaying. What will it take for people to listen to science? Assemb. Michael Fitzpatrick said, "As far as I can see, the science shows they are not at great risk with this virus." What research has he done?

Hospitalizations among children have risen dramatically. Children have adapted better to masks than parents believe. As a role model, a parent should instruct a child on why masks are important.

Is it worth the chance that a child gets sick with COVID-19 and the long-term effects that go with it at such a vulnerable age? Is it worth risking that your child might be one of the hundreds of children who will die from this disease?

This is not a political decision. This is a pandemic that can kill, regardless of political affiliation. Children cannot receive the lifesaving vaccine yet, so it is up to parents to protect them.

Maybe it’s time to move to Florida, where mask-wearing is not a priority and where more than 100 people die every day from the coronavirus. If your child becomes ill, you will need to turn to nurses and doctors. They are tired. Give them a break. Wear a mask.

— Carol Walsh, St. James

The recent anti-mask protests held in some Long Island communities this week are disgraceful. When people don’t wear masks indoors where it is mandated during a pandemic, they contribute to the worsening of a public health crisis. The data confirms this. People may be entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts. As a public school teacher, I am thrilled to report that the overwhelming majority of students have been completely cooperative and seem to get this. Sadly, it’s the adults who refuse to appreciate the need, at times, to act in ways that go beyond a narrowly defined self-interest and act in a manner that advances the public good. The spirit of civic-mindedness has been an essential element of American political culture since the nation’s inception, but it seems to be sorely absent in some quarters today.

— Carolyn Faggioni, Bellmore

I am a retired school administrator and psychologist who worked 40 years in public schools here to help promote the safety and well-being of our children. I am disappointed that several once-responsible school boards are challenging a state mandate regarding masks.

Placing the health of children in jeopardy is irresponsible, outrageous and embarrassing. The statement that masks protect children and adults is a fact. In a time when people are divided, these people chose to add to our division by making this an issue. Being aligned with decisions around the country causing hospitals’ intensive care units to operate at full capacity is not a good look.

I fear that these boards will look back on their position with shame. They are spending unnecessary legal fees to challenge the mask mandate.

— Louis Hirschfield, Bellmore

Anyone who receives money, schooling or any other benefit from the government at any level should have to get vaccinated. I know you cannot force someone to get vaccinated, but if you are collecting any kind of benefit, that should be a requirement.

Why should the majority of Americans who do their duty to help fight this coronavirus — by wearing masks, staying home, not seeing family members and following the rules to help stop the virus — pay for people who don’t care about others but still want to collect?

You can have your freedom of choice, but you can’t have it both ways. Now we give gifts to people to get shots, to do what they should be doing in the first place. What happens with the next major virus? Will people wait to see what gifts they could get before doing the right thing? The other vaccinated Americans didn’t have to be bribed to do their part to fight COVID-19.

— Joe Zaffuto, St. James