We’re zooming up on the start of school. I’m super excited Washington State University is going to completely be back to normal, with no restrictions. That is the appropriate response to the end of the pandemic, and it is a statement against irrational fear, and pro-science. COVID-19 has now passed through our community twice, in seasonal waves. We have highly effective vaccines available to all. If you are not vaccinated, you can easily get your vaccine at your local pharmacy. 

What that means is that you don’t need anyone else to get a vaccine. Wearing masks has been shown now to be at best an inconclusive population-based exercise, so the idea that you want to continue to wear masks is now a function of your own mental pathology. It’s time to free the rest of us from the screamers that can’t accept this. Let’s get back to normal.

For our really young people, in K-12, however, the future isn’t so bright. Leaders like Randi Weingarten, the head of the American Federation of Teachers union, continue to demonstrate pathological innumeracy, screaming that literal millions will die if their hysteria lies unheeded. We need our kids back in school as well, unmasked. But in order to do this, we need to take action – and teachers, I mean you. People like Weingarten are your aggregated voice, and she needs to hear that her behavior is appalling and unacceptable.

A change of language is needed. Instead of saying “wear a mask,” we need to say “have their breathing obstructed.” Notice the change of intent when you say “kids need to have their breathing obstructed” in order to attend school. Or “kids need to be socially delayed” in order to attend school. Because that’s the effect, and we should be honest as a society about it, instead of letting the linen St. Christopher Medal club dictate how we’re going to destroy our youth. Enough.

We sit at an interesting location here in Pullman and Moscow, in that we live in a functionally merged community across one of the reddest states, next to one of the bluest. It’s a high probability that in the fall, children in Moscow will not have their breathing obstructed. Yet it’s also a pretty high probability that children in Pullman will indeed have their breathing obstructed by terrified anti-science adults. Around the world, this experiment has been run, and it’s conclusive. Obstructing kids’ breathing makes no difference in societal outcomes. We just have to stop.

I attended a virtual Pullman School Board meeting some eight months ago, and was buoyed by the love of local teachers and principals to speak out against authority on getting our kids back in school. Their moving, emotional pleas were ignored. But we’re more than a year into this thing, and the duration of this nonsense is now treading on delicate, developmental ground.

Two things one might think about moving forward. The first is that what we’re actually doing, especially with the social aspect, is building in a price to be paid in our future citizenry in trauma through this craziness. It could be we will see this bill come due 15-20 years in the future, with increased mental illness and lack of a functional citizenry.

But in the short term, for all you superintendents out there clutching your pearls and masking up in empty rooms, you’re really sowing the seeds of the destruction of our public schools. Most people won’t fight – they’ll just move, and they’re already doing this. And the loss of a uniform school experience is something that has tremendous downsides as far as societal stability. COVID-19 has changed things. But there’s still time to act.

And act we must. I would encourage parents to let the school boards know exactly how they feel about obstructing their kids’ breathing for another year. And I would encourage all progressive minded teachers to let their unions know as well. We have vaccines for adults. We don’t need them for children. Let’s get back to normal.

Chuck Pezeshki is a professor in mechanical and materials engineering at Washington State University.

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