Catholic Parent Speaks Out Against Continued Mandates In Catholic Schools

Dear Father Healy,

I am appealing to you directly, because when we interviewed with you for our first of three children, Emma, at Our Lady of Mercy in the summer of 2015 you told us: “The buck stops with me.” OLM has been a wonderful experience for our children and our family as a whole. Our children are better people for having had the opportunity to learn in the Catholic system, and the community of the school and parish have sustained us spiritually and provided an environment that has helped create gracious, God loving, kind hearted kids. It is for these reasons that I am compelled to ask for your help personally.

As a practicing Primary Care Physician, father, and community member, I have been an ardent supporter of appropriate COVID policy since the beginning, including adult vaccination and proper mask use.

In the spring of 2020, when no one knew exactly what we were dealing with, other than a deadly respiratory virus with possible ties to a Chinese virology lab, I rolled with the punches: I supported distance learning – because we know you can’t catch a virus that you aren’t exposed to, I isolated from my family as much as I reasonably could – because I didn’t know if even single viral particle on my sleeve from work could kill my family, I supported contact hygiene – telling my own family to wipe down their mail and get their groceries delivered, followed by a 24 hour quarantine in the garage before properly disinfecting and sanitizing their food. I held my breath as I passed people in public, beneath a mask. I stockpiled toilet paper. I bought canned turkey.

Because even with all my education and experience – an undergraduate background in molecular biology and genetics, medical school, and residency training in Internal Medicine, followed by a 12 year career treating patients in the office and hospital, I had no idea what to expect. Was this to be the new Black Death? A pandemic that ravaged the globe for almost a decade in the mid 14th century killing an estimated 100 – 200 million people, or 30-60% of the world’s population. Was this going to be a virus which kills 3 out of every 5 people I know? It felt that way for a moment, for months. And because of that the world hit the panic button, and I was right there smashing it myself.

But as time went on, and evidence became available, and the dust and confusion started to settle – it became clear that this was not the Black Death, nor the Justinian Plague, nor the great Cholera pandemics, nor the Asian Flu of 1918, which killed 2-3% of the world’s population. This started to appear to be, at worst, similar to the 1956 Hong Kong Flu pandemic – a respiratory virus which killed an estimated 0.07% of the world’s population, and left little lasting impression on the majority of people alive at the time.

Whether divine predestination, or just bad timing, this virus could not have struck our planet at a more tremulous time – a hyperpolitical landscape in the United States laid the perfect backdrop for the divisive politicization of our public health response. While I sat anxiously awaiting the World’s health leaders to present the emerging evidence and change their policies accordingly, nothing changed. It became more political, more polarized, more hyperbolic in every way.

We had spent nearly a year with bizarre public health policies, closed schools, shut down businesses, but little focus on what was evident – wash your hands, stay home when ill, and improve your lifestyle. The political landscape and media portrayals continued to obfuscate our thinking, even after we had developed a vaccine which has rendered the statistical risk of adult disease to nearly that of seasonal influenza and we had proven that children have minimal risk of morbidity or mortality, and they have continued to polarize people and their thinking to this day, two years later.

Buried in this mental gymnasium are the policies that we implemented at the onset of this pandemic, most concerning of these are the unscientific, disproven, damaging, and frankly cruel practices we have implemented in our children’s school settings. We have treated our children as Leppers in school – viral vectors which need to be isolated, avoided, wrapped in masks and forced to not speak unless their breath be re-inhaled. In all of our political virtue signalling and righteous babbelling we have abandoned those who needed our attention the most. We have failed to stand up against the clearly injurious policies of an obviously politically motivated state, even when the evidence has become crystal clear.

Even Dr. MacDonald admitted that many of the policies we created in the early days of the pandemic were implemented without any risk/benefit analysis – because we had to act immediately. It was understandable then, and it was expected that as evidence developed we would re-evaluate. We now know we are dealing with an attenuating virus which poses minimal risk to children, and tolerable risk to adults who are vaccinated, one which will likely become endemic with seasonality.

The WHO, EU CDC, and UNICEF are all in agreement that masking children is not only not in their best interest, but likely tremendously harmful to their development, and now many states in the US have smartened up and changed their policies to reflect reality. Even mainstream media outlets including NPR, The Washington Post, and The Atlantic have called for an end to masking policies.

But for some reason, Governor McKee sees opportunity in continued emergency powers and the perpetuation of masking policies. I ask you to see past this obviously politically motivated position, which seems to have little to do with public health and much more to do with our state budget and the remuneration to the private companies running our hospital systems.

In perspective, with the CDC’s own data we see that Influenza is a deadlier disease for children than COVID, killing more children annually in the US than COVID in five of the past dozen seasons. Our natural risk tolerance allowed for perfectly normal societal functioning during every flu season in the past 100 years. Even during the 2009 H1N1 Swine Flu pandemic, which claimed over 1200 children in the US in a single season, we were able to survive just fine without these draconian, thoughtless, and punitive policies. In 1956, with a similar statistical risk by influenza, we managed to maintain complete normalcy for our children.

It is for these reasons that I ask you to rescind all restrictive policies at the school as soon as possible. Let the children eat together in the cafeteria, let them breathe, let them be the social butterflies that they need to be, let them develop normally, according to our millenia of understanding of child rearing. Let them be children again.

One of the main reasons we chose the Catholic Education System for our children was because we saw the wickedness in the government’s approach to teaching and caring for our children. I will never forget our conversation when we sat with you in 2015 – you asked me why we were choosing Catholic School over Public School, and I answered “Because I have found the public system to be amoral” – you agreed with me, commenting specifically that you also felt it was more than just immoral, but truly amoral. Well, I find the state’s policies as they relate to children in school during this pandemic to be more than just immoral, they are amoral. I hope and pray you will consider my appeal, and find it the most appropriate course of action to soon return our children to complete normalcy. I look forward to your thoughtful response.

In faith,

Jonathan H. Martin, M.D.
Medical Director, Rhode Island
Village Medical
Staff Physician
Roger Williams Medical Center


Of the following two issues related to Rhode Island’s public schools, which one is a greater concern?

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