Photo by Emily Gilbert/Whidbey News-Times
Oak Harbor High School students returned to school in February, masks in tow, after being out of classrooms for almost a year. Now parents are asking school administrators to let students go to class without masks despite state requirements.

Photo by Emily Gilbert/Whidbey News-Times Oak Harbor High School students returned to school in February, masks in tow, after being out of classrooms for almost a year. Now parents are asking school administrators to let students go to class without masks despite state requirements.

100-plus sign letter urging OH schools to let students unmask

The letter criticized the mask requirement and alleged masks were harmful to children’s health.

More than 100 people signed a letter sent to Oak Harbor Public Schools asking administrators to drop the district’s mask mandate despite the state’s requirement that students wear them.

A member of the public who signed the letter read it aloud during the school board during the meeting Monday night. The school district sent the Whidbey News-Times a copy of the letter.

After first thanking school administrators for reopening classrooms, it criticized the mask requirement and alleged masks were harmful to children’s health.

“It is an overreach of power, an assault of human rights and a danger to our children,” the letter read. “Please remove the mask mandate.”

It included several links to posts on the Primary Doctor Medical Journal, a volunteer-run website created in November 2020 filled with anti-mask papers that the site claims are peer-reviewed.

The website appeared to be created solely in response to the coronavirus pandemic and almost every post is authored or co-authored by Colleen Huber, who describes herself as a naturopath.

Huber has a cancer clinic in Arizona and suggests intravenous nutrient treatments for cancer patients as opposed to modern medicine.

Other links in the letter lead to limited studies that claimed masks and lockdowns were detrimental to children’s health or ineffective and articles that showed an increase in suicides and abuse during the pandemic.

The letter also shared the group’s concerns about the impact of masks and canceled events on students’ mental and emotional well-being.

“We are no longer following the science at this point, we are witnessing the collapse in mental health of a generation of children,” it read.

The letter repeatedly criticized changing guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and said measures like lockdowns were unnecessary. It also argued that students should be able to remove their masks because most teachers and staff have been vaccinated.

“Children are being sacrificed as part of the experiment,” the letter claims. “The virus is real. The narrative is not.”

In response, Superintendent Lance Gibbon reminded attendees that the state Department of Health, Department of Labor and Industries and Gov. Jay Inslee’s proclamation require that masks be worn while indoors. Specific guidance from the state Department of Health for schools requires staff and students to wear masks in public indoor spaces.

“The district intends to continue to comply with the three current mask orders and DOH guidance for K-12 schools (including mask requirements) until they are modified,” Gibbon said in an email.

The school district now has a dashboard of the counts of cumulative and current COVID-19 cases. As of Thursday evening, there have been 13 cumulative cases in the school district. Eight were among students, and five were among staff.

Gibbon explained that anyone who is still quarantining is counted as a current case.

The dashboard listed three current cases in the school district as of Thursday evening. There were only two student cases listed, and both were at the high school. There was one case among a staff member; that person works at Broad View Elementary.

Students in grades 5-12 began attending in-person classes, while wearing masks, four full days per week on April 26.

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