Importance of choice

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Tyler Nakaoka

Feb 21, 2022, 6:16:28 PM2/21/22
Los Alamos Public School board,

The community is hugely appreciative for the opportunity to weigh in on the very difficult decision you have been charged with. Opening the discussion up to public comments has been invaluable for my family to consider the viewpoints of others in our community and I am very impressed by the quality of the contributions so far.

I have written my personal input about twenty different ways but glad I waited until hours before the meeting to share my perspective. Reading everyone else's well written arguments has guided me to the perspective I've landed on sharing as I don't see any value in reiterating someone else's already well articulated point.

The fact is that New Mexico no longer requires masks to be worn indoors. Regardless of whether or not children must wear their masks at school, individual families have been granted the choice of whether or not to mask up (nearly) everywhere else in New Mexico. The people that are for letting their children take their masks off in school are also the people that are going to take their masks off as soon as they leave the classroom. 

Statistics about infection rates, vaccination status, youth mortality rates, mask efficacy, ect. are all very relevant but secondary to the fact that New Mexicans can make their own masking decisions in nearly every aspect of their life, except school. 

Our kids are fortunate to have a staggering amount of choices in their life: Do they want to play basketball or try out volleyball? Which restaurant do they want to support tonight? Should they have a sleepover with their friend or are they going to the trampoline park in the morning? 

As of February 17th children are now afforded the opportunity to choose whether or not to wear a mask during every one of the activities listed above but currently have no control over their preferences when it comes to education.

As a young person, adults alway reinforce the idea that with the right amount of effort you can achieve any dream. School facilitates this goal and fosters an environment of imagination and creativity. School is a place where developing minds are taught that their opinions matter and the choices they make will shape the world their children will be raised in. It would be a real shame if children start associating school with mandates, a lack of choice and a place where their opinion is never even considered.

I realize it's not fair to ask a child if they need to wear a mask at school because how could a kindergartener understand and make a distinction between all the well written points that the community has shared through this open forum...That same kindergartener that isn't able to decipher the complexities of masking during a pandemic does recognize that they can go anywhere in New Mexico without a mask except for school.

How does a parent explain to their child that it is dangerous for themselves and the community for them to show their face at school but as soon as that bell rings they are free to commigle and recreate maskless? I understand if you think masks should still be required but that is no longer the case. New Mexico is no longer under a mask mandate and to make the distinction between mandating masks at schools and not the rest of the state is dangerous.

Thank you for your consideration and affording us all this time to share,
Tyler Nakaoka
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