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School Committee Meeting Testimony

Updated: Nov 15, 2021

Statement given on 8/24/2021

My name is Teresa English. I’m wearing multiple hats tonight. I’m a parent of BPS kids, a high school history teacher, and my Bachelor's is in Biology.

As a parent, I am concerned for my middle schooler - who is too young for the vaccine and my high schooler - who is vaccinated. I do not want them to feel uncomfortable at school, or to struggle to hear their classmates and the teacher. I so desperately wish that things could go back to normal. I’m tired of fighting all these battles.

As a teacher, my perspective is much different. During the 2018-2019 school year, I watched as wave after wave of the flu wiped through my school. Some teachers got both strains of the flu that year. Some kids missed weeks of school resulting in months of catching up and extra help after school to pass their sophomore year.

With my background in science and interdisciplinary studies, the recent data and studies show an exciting conclusion. If we had masked up when the flu was going around, it could have been mitigated. All the tissues, hand sanitizer, cough drops, and Clorox wipes, I would not have had to buy with my own money. Masks are effective at lessening the spread of ALL viruses spread through respiratory droplets.

Here’s my history teacher hat - masks have been used for a really long time. During World War I, the US Army began requiring face masks in hospitals. During the influenza outbreak of 1918 towns that mandated masks had fewer deaths and illnesses overall. And during the dust bowl - it saved lives by keeping dust out of their lungs. In parts of Asia, it’s considered courteous to wear a mask if you are feeling unwell to protect others.

No one likes being told what to do and I understand bristling against authority, but the motives of us who are in favor of wearing masks have no desire to strip away anyone’s liberty. We are clumsily attempting to protect the most vulnerable, the unvaccinated, and everyone else. This virus can be defeated if we collectively get vaccinated and wear masks.

As a town meeting rep and concerned member of our community, I am saddened by the behavior of people who seek to sow anger and mistrust. Our police officers are attempting to keep the peace and have been treated terribly, shouted at, and ignored. Elected and appointed persons have a difficult job and are tasked with sorting through lots of rapidly changing information to make the best decision for the Town. Most of these positions are unpaid and are done out of love for our Town. They deserve our respect and gratitude for their service.

Wearing masks is the right thing to do and a mandate is necessary because not everyone shares our goals.

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