A recent poll by the Angus Reid Institute showed that more than half of B.C. respondents would accept a mask mandate in public spaces.
Even though a majority favour universal masking in public indoor spaces, there is only one candidate for Vancouver school board so far who has promised to reinstate this in schools.
Dr. Karina Zeidler is running with the new Vote Socialist party. She’s a cofounder of Protect Our Province B.C., which is a group of health-care workers, researchers, and advocates who have been holding public-health officials accountable for promoting the spread of COVID-19.
“I’m going to be asking every one of the other candidates what their position on mask mandates are—and forcing the issue,” Zeidler told the Straight this month. “They are going to have to answer me—whether they favour the mask mandate or whether they favour disease and discrimination.”
The Vancouver family physician has been inspired by the “sewer socialists” in early 20th-century Milwaukee who advocated for city-owned water and electricity systems and better education to improve society.
In 1910, a socialist named Emil Seidel was elected mayor of Milwaukee. Two other sewer socialists were also elected mayor of the city: Daniel Hoan, who remained in office from 1916 to 1940, and Frank Zeidler, who served from 1948 to 1960.
Frank Zeidler’s daughter Jeanne was mayor of the historic tourist town of Williamsburg, Virginia from 1998 to 2010.
Dr. Karina Zeidler is not related to these two Zeidlers.
She’s also been inspired by 19th-century German physician and pathologist Rudolf Virchow, one of the founders of public health in his country.
“He has this famous quote of how medicine is social science and politics is nothing else than medicine on a large scale,” Dr. Zeidler said. “I think that’s so relevant now with COVID and everything going on there.”
Meanwhile, incumbent Vancouver school trustees with the NPA, Greens, OneCity Vancouver, COPE, and Vision Vancouver have all refused to push for a mask mandate in public schools.
None of them has brought forward a motion on this subject in 2022 in the face of wave after wave of COVID-19.
This is despite relatively low immunization rates among children from ages 5 to 11 and a growing body of research confirming that the airborne route is the dominant form of transmission for COVID-19.
That’s to say nothing of the dreadful data on the extent of Long COVID among schoolchildren in Britain, which is interfering with their mental capacities.
Nor have the incumbents brought forward any motion to install carbon-dioxide monitors in classrooms even though this gas is a proxy for measuring the concentration of human-expelled aerosols in indoor spaces.
Shockingly, trustees took no meaningful action after a presentation by safer-schools advocates who demonstrated that carbon-dioxide measurements exceeded 2,000 parts per million in one portable classroom.
That’s far above the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers’ recommendation of 800 to 1,000 parts per million of indoor air.
Moreover, documents in Alberta and a very large U.S. study financed by the National Institutes of Health have demonstrated that schools and districts with mandatory masks mandates have far lower rates of in-school transmission of COVID-19 compared to those with optional-mask policies, like Vancouver.
Some public-health officials have suggested that if kids wear masks in schools, it can have a negative impact on mental health. But that argument was blown away in an April Twitter thread by Vancouver child and adolescent psychiatrist Dr. Tyler Black. You can read it below.
For those who favour mask mandates, particularly in schools, there’s really only one choice in the upcoming Vancouver civic election.
And that’s to “plump”.
“For individual voters, plumping is really the only way to boost your voter power,” former trustee and councillor Anne Roberts wrote in a commentary on Straight.com in 2014.
“Plumping is when you cast just one or two votes instead of the full 10 allowed,” she continued. “The advantage is that you focus your voting power on the ones you really want to win. At the same time, you don’t dilute the power of that vote by voting for someone who could end up beating your preferred candidates.”
Even though electors have nine votes for school trustee, there’s only one candidate who’s speaking in favour of universal masking: Dr. Zeidler.
The only sensible choice for supporters of mask mandates—and safer schools for the many kids with immunocompromised family members—is to only vote for Dr. Zeidler and withhold voting for the NPA, ABC Vancouver, Vision Vancouver, COPE, OneCity Vancouver, Green, Progress Vancouver, or any other party that’s putting candidates up for school trustee.
Voting for candidates other than Dr. Zeidler lessens her chance of winning and promoting actions that will save lives of school students, staff, and their families.
I’m sure that many of these other candidates have a great deal to offer. I’ve admired the contributions of several of them in a variety of areas.
But if they’re not willing to embrace the science around masks and airborne COVID and call for a mask mandate—particularly at the elementary level—they have no business sitting as trustees on the Vancouver school board.
It’s really that simple.
However, should any of the existing candidates for Vancouver school board, including incumbents, decide that they will support or introduce a motion for universal masking in Vancouver public schools, the Straight will share this information with readers.
They’ll get bonus points for advocating for carbon-dioxide monitors and HEPA filters in classrooms, no matter what Vancouver Coastal Health, Education Minister Jennifer Whiteside, Health Minister Adrian Dix, or B.C. Liberal Leader Kevin Falcon has to say on these topics.