What we have done

Since the start of school in August of 2020, North Carolina public school students have been tested, masked, and quarantined as the price of admission to receive a constitutionally guaranteed free and public education. For some, the abuse has been consistent and relentless. For others, there have been periods of relief. For a blessed few, there has even been a semblance of normalcy. Yet regardless of their scholastic overlords’ allegiance to the COVID cult, the children have suffered.

The original Wuhan strain hardly infected children at all. And those that got it did not have much more than a cold. Then came Delta, the vaccine-escaped variant with increased virulence. And while children were more impacted, they remained safe and resilient. Now we have Omicron, the most transmissible but least deadly variant of them all. And the kids are still fine.

So, what have we accomplished? In short, we have set an entire generation of children behind for a lie. We have set them behind mentally, socially, and academically. Anxiety and depression are rampant, social skills have deteriorated, and academic performance is abysmal. We have trained them to fear their neighbor, segregate based on personal medical choice, and, for many, hate school altogether. We have taken away everything they enjoy, or so warped it with COVID-19 restrictions they no longer want to participate. We have broken their spirit for a lie.

The truth was known

And what is worse, we have known the truth all along, at least those who wanted to know. Last year, Dr. Scott Atlas, former Coronavirus Task Force member and advisor to President Trump, published a memoir called “A Plague Upon Our House: My Fight at the Trump White House to Stop COVID from Destroying America.” As a strong advocate for reopening schools in 2020, Dr. Atlas cited several key facts to support his position. First, COVID-19 was not dangerous to children. Second, children were unlikely to transmit it to adults. And third, “the harms to children of closing in-person schooling are dramatic and irrefutable…” To illustrate, Dr. Atlas wrote,

Sweden kept its schools open throughout their pandemic surge, without mask-wearing or social-distancing mandates. They experienced an extremely low incidence of significant COVID-19 and zero deaths in nearly 2 million school children ages one to sixteen. Sweden’s teachers showed no increase in the age-adjusted risk of severe COVID-19.

Throughout the pandemic, schools have proven in study after study, across the world, to be among the lowest risk COVID environments. Yet, here in America, they are still the most heavily restricted.

Many of our elected officials say they disagree with COVID policies but insist the law ties their hands. Really? Because forcing a person to wear a mask under Emergency Use Authorization is against federal law. Having school personnel instead of the local health director issue quarantine orders is against state law. Denying a healthy child access to a free and public education is against the state constitution. And yet, they have had no problem ignoring those laws.

We are the solution

With thousands of students in every school district, how many parents have attended a single school board meeting, authored a single email, made a single phone call, or just pulled their child out? For those who have, thank you. For those who want change and have not, shame on you.

So when will we end this? Note, I am not asking when NCDHHS will change policies, elected officials will stop cowering behind the law, or a court will rule in our favor. I am asking when we, the people in whom all sovereignty is constitutionally vested, will end this. How long will we allow the children of this state to endure this abuse without massive protest, resistance, defiance, or removal?

In the introduction to his memoir, Dr. Atlas wrote two things that surprised him most about the first year of the pandemic. First, he was “shocked at the enormous power of government officials to unilaterally decree a sudden and severe shutdown of society…” And second, “the acquiescence of the citizenry to such extraordinary and ill-conceived restrictions in a nation that was founded on the principles of freedom from an overbearing government….”

In a state where 75% of counties voted for Trump in 2020, only 23% of school districts currently have masks optional. Given how little resistance I have seen over the past year, I am afraid we will not recover that which has been taken away. Please prove me wrong.

Jason Phibbs is analytics professional for an investment firm and host of the First in Freedom Podcast.