Doctors discuss implementing universal masking at local schools

JOPLIN, Mo. – More than 100 physicians sign a letter recommending a policy for universal masking at local schools. KOAM spoke with two of the doctors who signed the letter on what they’re hoping it will achieve.

The letter is only three pages long. Doctors sent it to 12 local districts. They hope it will encourage local school boards to adopt universal masking policies. Dr. Justin Wilberding with Freeman Health System says, “There’s an area group of physicians where we collaborate online and Joplin Schools came out with a policy this week kind of stating what their plan was as far ask mask mandates and quarantine and so we had some major concerns with that and that’s why we felt it pertinent to come out with a statement of our own.”

Dr. Wilberding with Freeman says the biggest issue with the Joplin policy, is the quarantine guidelines. “The current CDC recommendations and department of health state that if you’ve had known exposure with somebody that the recommendation is to quarantine for 10 days, the Joplin policy kinda goes against that stating that if you’ve had direct contact, whether you be a teacher or student, that you do not need to quarantine but instead you can come back to school if you wear a mask for 10 days or for 5 days if you get a known test that’s negative.”

COVID-19 Statistics

The letter provides different stats and facts on COVID-19. It also provides information on the Delta variant, its contagiousness, and that it does seem to be impacting younger kids. Mercy Dr. Samir Dalia says he hopes the combined efforts of local physicians will have an impact. “I think one of the biggest strengths of this letter is that this isn’t you know, coming from one single hospital system, we have community physicians that aren’t affiliated with Freeman or Mercy, we have Freeman doctors, we have Mercy doctors who have all stepped up and said this is important for our area.”

Collaboration on Universal Masking

Dr. Dalia says they’re not here to dictate policy, but instead, to collaborate with the districts. “We aren’t here just to say hey this is what we’re recommending to school boards, we really want to work with the school boards and we hope that the school boards take us up on our offer and we want to sit with them and help them kinda decide what’s going to best.”

The letter commends the Joplin Area Catholic Schools for already having a mask mandate in place, and implores the other 11 to do the same thing.

To learn more about what the letter discussed and view the letter in its entirety, click here.