School started a week ago, and while I am thrilled that students have returned to in-person learning and very appreciative of the dedication and hard work of teachers, I am very concerned about transmission of COVID among students and to vulnerable family members. According to the CDC, COVID can be spread by individuals who are asymptomatic, so CDC recommends wearing face masks when not able to physically distance at least six feet.

In just one week, I have observed behaviors that concern me. While in line to pick up my granddaughter at the middle school, I see students and even teachers without masks, even though they are not six feet apart. The CDC recommends wearing masks when not six feet apart “while entering or exiting school (e.g. carpool drop off/pick up).” It suggests that staff monitor students during transitions.

I was at the high school football game on Friday evening while my granddaughter was playing with the high school band. Next to the band members was the cheer section, with students sitting shoulder to shoulder, not wearing masks and cheering on the Longhorns. The CDC recommends “that masks should be worn by spectators as much as possible.”

I am very, very concerned. Most students in Payson have chosen to return to in-person learning. They would be devastated if they had to go back to remote learning, and they would be devastated if they lost a family member to COVID, like we did. The number of COVID cases is increasing in Europe and parts of the United States. It is my hope that students and staff will take CDC recommendations more seriously in order to protect the health of students and their families. I would also like to see all residents of our town wear masks when out in public and not able to physically distance. It seems like a minor accommodation to keep us healthy and able to engage safely in the activities we love.

Denise Blanchette

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