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The Putnam County school board’s sham of a mask mandate has led to Putnam County achieving one of the highest rates of COVID-19 in school-age children in our state (most days, right around 20% of cases in children ages 5 to 11).

Most counties surrounding us, including Cabell and Kanawha counties, have half that percentage of cases in the same age bracket.

For those unaware, Putnam schools’ mandatory mask mandate is, in fact, optional, until cases reach such high levels that the schools shouldn’t be open or at least mostly quarantined. Only then will they mandate masks for five days.

Yet, the school board has decided this counts as a mandate, so they no longer need to assist our overburdened health department with contact tracing.

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The school board insists they will comply if the governor, state Department of Education or Department of Health and Human Resources issues a mandate. Meanwhile, our children are getting sick and passing it to family members as the state leader who should be protecting our children says, “It’s not my job.”

It is time for some leadership in West Virginia and in Putnam County. Our children and our community deserve it. Quite frankly, the medical community has spoken. The school board should not need to be ordered to do the right thing.

Melisa J. Sigley


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