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Nebraska Education Association asks for community-wide mask mandate

Can you ask someone to put on a mask?
Posted at 11:15 AM, Jul 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-24 12:17:15-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — The Nebraska State Education Association has sent a request to Dr. Adi Pour, the Omaha City Council and the Douglas County Board of Health requesting that a mask mandate be implemented throughout the metro area.

"On behalf of the educators living and working in Omaha, we are writing in support of a mask mandate for all citizens in our community," the letter said. "We are just a few short weeks from the start of the school year and teachers are eager to reconnect with their students. Yet, if we cannot do so with the appropriate health measures in place and enforced, the lives of all students and school staff are at risk."

The letter said they agree with the American Academy of Pediatrics that children older than 2 years should wear masks, with exceptions made for serious physical or mental health conditions. The letter cited the CDC's remarks that the virus could be driven to the ground in 4-6 weeks if everyone wore masks.

"We urgently ask that you act to immediately require masks be worn by all members of our community to help ensure the health and safety of children, school staff and all our citizens," the letter said. "The safety and health of students, staff and families are paramount as decisions are made about physically reopening our school buildings. The lives of children, educators – and those of the family members they come home to – are at stake."

The letter was co-signed by the presidents of several education associations including Elkhorn, Millard, Omaha, Ralston and Westside.

Gov. Pete Ricketts has opposed mask mandates in the state. Pour said on Thursday that one could be coming to Douglas County as soon as next week.

Read the letter below:

July 24, 2020

Dear City Council Members / Commissioners,

On behalf of the educators living and working in Omaha, we are writing in support of a mask mandate for all citizens in our community.

We are just a few short weeks from the start of the school year and teachers are eager to reconnect with their students. Yet, if we cannot do so with the appropriate health measures in place and enforced, the lives of all students and school staff are at risk.

We agree with the American Academy of Pediatrics that children older than 2 should wear masks, unless wearing a cloth face covering may exacerbate a physical or mental health condition, lead to a medical emergency, or introduce significant safety concerns. Just last week, the Centers for Disease Control Director Dr. Robert Redfield said, “If all of us would put on a face covering now for the next 4-6 weeks, we could drive this epidemic to the ground."

We urgently ask that you act to immediately to require masks be worn by all members of our community to help ensure the health and safety of children, school staff and all our citizens.

The safety and health of students, staff and families are paramount as decisions are made about physically reopening our school buildings. The lives of children, educators – and those of the family members they come home to – are at stake.

Sincerely,
Jenni Benson, President, Nebraska State Education Association
Carla Rohwer, President, Elkhorn Education Association
Tim Royers, President-elect, Millard Education Association
Paul Schulte, President, Millard Education Association
Robert Miller, President, Omaha Education Association
Jane Leadabrand, President, Ralston Education Association
Teresa Matthews, President, Westside Education Association
cc: Dr. Adi Pour
Jim Dowding