(CMR) Parents have started a petition to have the Cayman Islands Government reconsider The mandatory wearing of masks when classes begin next week. The current guidelines require kids to wear masks when indoors.
The petition originally requested 500 signatures and was published earlier on Tuesday evening and within several hours it had almost that required number of signatures. It has now automatically increased to 1,000 signatures. The petition shares that of particular concern are kids under the age of 11.
The petition is asking for signatories from anyone who believes that the guidelines should make the wearing of masks optional with parents ultimately deciding what is in the best interest of their children.
As most students return to schools around the world mask wearing has been a mandatory requirement. The New York Times reported that masks are becoming a part of the school backpack kits and are being sold by major retailers like Amazon in a wide variety of kid friendly colors and designs.
Dr. Andrew Adesman, the chief of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at the Cohen Children’s Medical Centre in Queens, New York shared his view that face mask for children should be viewed as a positive experience. He noted:
”The reality is, you want children to go back to school in the safest way possible. Having child-friendly face masks in terms of fit and appeal are probably more part of the solution than the problem.”
A recent study out of South Korea found that children younger than 10 transmit the coronavirus less than adults. However, children between 10 and 19 transmit it on par with the adult transmission rate.
However, another study published on Thursday by JAMA Pediatrics found that children younger than five can host up to 100 times as much of the virus in the upper respiratory tracts as adults.
Most parents in Cayman are of the opinion that since we have no active cases the virus is unlikely to still be on island. However, critics point to the recent shocking reemergence of the virus in New Zealand after 102 of no new cases.
There are concerns that given the proximity of children in classrooms returning to that environment could pose a particular risks for a vulnerable group who are considered mostly vectors of the disease. Students have show that in closer quarters the small droplets of the virus can travel up to 16 feet.
The Cayman Islands Government shut down all schools for an initial period of six weeks in March but later extended that period for the remainder of the school year.
Parents on island have been particularly adamant about having options for their children including re-opening camps during the summer months. Some parents have claimed that the psychological impact of not allowing children to socialize and continue their normal routines is more detrimental than the outbreak of the virus.
Masks are still a requirement in public spaces in the Cayman Islands which has largely been compliant with this aspect of the COVID-19 regulations.