Chatham School Board members are elected to a Board of Education – not a Board of Health

By Amy Kappelman

Pittsboro, NC – I’ve attended every board meeting this school year. So have many of the parents here. I’ve come here on behalf of my four children and the families who aren’t able to attend these meetings and those who are listening in right now. I also have these letters from parents who aren’t able to attend tonight with their personal stories of the damages caused by masking their children. We have provided specific research and medical opinions on why masks should be optional in Chatham County Schools. 
However, the most important point that we want to emphasize tonight is that mandated masks are only a small part of a bigger issue  – the interests of parents and their children are obviously not being served by this board — except for Mr. Hamm. Thank you. 

Amy Kappelman spoke at the February 14th Chatham County School Board meeting (photo by Gene Galin)

No matter what we say, we are ignored. So my appeal tonight is to the parents, not to the Board. As parents, with a variety of political ideologies, we must work together to do whatever it takes to elect a Board who will listen to us and focus on the education – not the health – of our kids.

To recap previous board meetings, Mr. Zelek has provided his set of facts. He continues to push that cases are going up. He consistently gives a ratio of “cases per 100,000” when Chatham County doesn’t even have a population close to 100,000. The majority of this Board is relying 100% on Mr. Zelek’s data. We must insist that Mr. Zelek provide the specific data on how many lives have been saved by wearing masks. I am providing printouts of just some of the research supporting our position and will gladly share that data with any parent who is interested.

Regardless of which data we all want to believe, it’s OUR CHILDRENS’ well-being that is at stake — not the Board’s – most of whom do not have children attending our schools. We, the parents, not the Board, have the health information about our children. It is we who know that each of our children is different. We are the ones noticing the damage that is being caused by forcing masks. We are the ones who are taking our children to therapists because our children are unusually anxious after more than two years of being told to be afraid of killing the people around them. “Wear a mask so you don’t kill your teacher!” “Get vaccinated so you don’t kill your grandparents!” That’s what our young children hear inside the walls of this Board’s county schools.

Del Turner, who represents District 3, stated that people are “selfish” for not wanting to wear masks — in her words, “at least it’s not a hazmat suit or a gas mask!”. Ms. Turner also said that “kids don’t complain and don’t mind wearing masks”. Ms. Turner has never spoken to my child who comes home crying because he’s so tired of getting headaches from wearing the masks every day and my other child who was asked to sit by himself at lunch because he was “talking to a friend without his mask on”. Does everyone realize Chatham County Schools are asking our elementary thru high school age children to NOT TALK during lunch time and are punished NOT for being disrespectful and talking back to a teacher, not for bullying another child, not for acting up in class, but for “talking to a friend without his mask on DURING LUNCH”. Does that make sense to all of you? Because when your child comes home and tells you that, what is your reaction going to be? Suck it up, you’re saving a life? Who’s life are they saving? 
According to Ms. Turner, our children are saving her life and they are being selfish if they don’t do what this board tells us. Our Superintendent, Dr. Jackson, continually repeats, “at least our kids are back in school!” 

Jane Allen Wilson, who has no children and represents District 4, stated “children are vectors,” who, by not wearing a mask, may cause others to die. The members of this Board are elected to a Board of Education – not a Board of Health.

It is obvious that the Board members have not considered both the actual and potential — I emphasize individual — harm that they are causing. It is obvious that the Board members don’t understand that if irreparable damage can be proven as a result of forcing any child to be masked or vaccinated without knowing each child’s individual medical history, THEY, the Board, bear the individual responsibility for the results of their actions. We may not know for some time what the damages are that these Board members have created with this mandate. What if a child suffers damage that is provable? The Board collectively and individually will be held responsible.

We have complied with the Board mandate and have asked our children to wear masks at school for almost two years. They have continued to wear masks that come home filthy dirty. That is not selfish behavior. But, the Board is not listening to us so they leave us no choice.

I, and I believe other parents, have consulted with legal counsel regarding the apparent negligence of the Board’s actions. It is my hope that we will all work toward the best interests of our community — our taxpayers, our children and our parents — I would prefer that we are not forced to get into any legal action.

While there may be some merit in the Board’s decision to follow the CDC rules and guidelines and what Wake and Orange counties are doing, there is growing evidence that a “one size fits all” policy has caused irreparable harm to individual children. The Board has a responsibility above the legal responsibility. The Board has a responsibility to listen to the parents of the children who Chatham County Schools are educating. Board members are bound by their individual oaths of office that state “remember always that a board member’s first and greatest concern must be the educational welfare of the students attending the public schools.”

We are only asking to make masks OPTIONAL. If masks work, then masks will work on those who choose to wear them.

Every day there are announcements — including 40 counties in North Carolina — acknowledging that the time has come to stop harmful government mandates and allow individual citizens to make their own choice as to what works for them and their children. The board members and the parents cannot be silent any longer. Let’s join this wave tonight and come together and focus on the real challenge – providing a quality education for our children.