Letter: How many sick children will it take for Utah leaders to do the right thing?

(Rick Bowmer | The Associated Press) Lucie Phillips, 6, and her brother David Phillips, 3, join parents and students during a rally at Utah State School Board Office calling for mask mandate Friday, Aug. 6, 2021, in Salt Lake City. The school year is days away for many kids in Utah and public health experts are worried about whether kids too young to get vaccinated will stay safe in school amid a wave of coronavirus cases.

Only a week and a half into the new school year and my unvaccinated daughter (ineligible for the vaccine due to her age) was exposed to COVID-19 in a largely unmasked classroom where she and a small handful of masked students had come hoping to learn in a safe environment. We waited in a two and a half hour long line to get tested behind minivans filled with kids. And when the test results came back positive and I was left with a sick and scared child who should be in school learning, I was left feeling angry and frustrated and scared for my family.

This scenario is playing out in countless classrooms and homes across the state and it did not have to be this way. It is unconscionable that our leaders would choose to put children and families and communities at risk instead of advocating for best practices, such as universal masking in schools, to mitigate spread.

Our health care workers have been pleading in vain to get vaccinated and wear a mask in public to ease the strain on our overwhelmed hospitals. It is long past time to listen to them. How many sick children will it take for Utah leaders to stand up, listen to the science, support medical professionals on the front lines, and do the right thing?

Maren Williams Warnick, Syracuse

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