This story is about my dear friend Anaïs Tekerian and the letter she wrote to her kids’ public school. When she shared the letter with me, I was moved beyond words. I was so moved that I asked Anaïs for permission to publish it, and she kindly agreed. It is my honor to share her words with you. May lioness mothers like Anaïs inspire us and give us courage.
A LETTER BY ANAIS TEKERIAN
Dear Superintendent, Principal, Parent Coordinator, and Fellow Parents,
I am writing with a heavy heart, as a parent who has loved PS 150 and the public education my children have received in this city, to let you know that I am withdrawing my fourth-grader from the DOE until the practices of masking children and random PCR testing are ceased.
I can no longer abide labels of any sort, but for those who might not know me, I have been an activist against Trump, against racial inequity, for environmental justice (indeed, a decade ago, I was one of the parents who helped bring composting to our school), and I am generally an upstanding citizen with a strong belief in human progress and goodness. I have also become, in this pandemic, well-researched on health science, and my perusal of dozens and dozens of articles and papers regarding masks and PCR testing and the actual danger of the SARS-CoV-2 virus posed to children and from children, has led me to the decision to homeschool my younger daughter in order to keep her from the psychological, physical, and emotional ill-effects of mask-wearing and random testing. I am afraid that though the staff following these policies are well-intentioned, those dictating the policies have, at the very least, foregone a proper and ethical vetting of the science before implementing them.
I am including below some links to scientific studies regarding masks, but some of my concerns are as follows: masks on children and on teachers prevent communication through facial cues and a development of the literacy of emotion that children depend upon to interpret the world around them. (And as we find ourselves in a world that is less and less interpersonally rich, with so much moving into the virtual world, it is all the more tragic that essential communication through facial expressions is being denied.) Children depend upon physical proximity and touch to interpret their world, and depriving them of this contact is detrimental.
Also detrimental is promoting the idea that everyone sharing a space with them is a potential biohazard; we are placing children in a setting in which fear is the driving principle, since every normal act—eating, talking, laughing—is implied to be a danger to those around them. In actual fact, less children have died of Covid since March 2020 than died of the flu in the 2018-2019 season.
People in healthcare know that masks are only useful to prevent the spread of bodily fluids between patient and doctor, and only when used properly—meaning placed on the face and not touched. Children are touching their masks many times a day, (if even just to take them off during mask break and to eat and drink) and every time they touch their mask, they are infecting it with virus and bacteria from their hands. According to healthcare protocol, they should be changing their masks multiple times a day, then, which would be an incredible waste of resources. Many studies have also shown that masks, especially cloth masks, have no effect in blocking respiratory viruses which, with a diameter of 60-100 nanometers, easily pass through the holes of a mask that are measured on an order of 10-100 micrometers (not to mention the open spaces between the mask and the cheeks and nose). Furthermore, measuring CO2 levels behind masks has shown that they are at a level that is at least 5 times higher than what is deemed safe by OSHA standards. So the DOE is asking that for upwards of 25 hours a week, our children breathe levels of CO2 that are considered unsafe according to OSHA, through pieces of cloth or plastic-paper that are likely harboring a host of germs kept in constant proximity to our children’s faces. Studies have found that masks can lead to incidences of hypercapnia, to eventual pulmonary fibrosis due to the inhalation of small pieces of fabric or plastic material from the masks… These risks are real and are not outweighed by any benefits for a population that has less than a .003 chance of death from SARS-CoV-2.
Regarding the random PCR testing, the links below include an explanation of why PCR testing is an inaccurate way to diagnose infection, as stated by the inventor of the PCR himself. They also include a study from the Académie de Médecine de France that shows that the nasal swab is not without the risk of meningitis. But on top of the inefficacy and the health risks associating with these tests, the idea that our children can be subjected to a such a medical intervention—and outside of the presence of their guardians—is unacceptable to me. It is a violation of their bodily sovereignty. As someone who is pro-choice, I hold the sanctity of the body in high regard. The only situation in which I accept that my child be intervened upon medically without my direct supervision is in the case of emergency. Children in other states and countries are not being coerced into such a violation of their persons, and it appalls me that the New York DOE can consider this acceptable.
I find it tragic that fear of a virus that has had no effect on healthy children has turned our school system into one that condones their ill treatment. (The unfortunate children who have died of Covid, like those who die every year of the flu, are those who have serious co-morbidities; this is tragic, but the number of lockdown-induced suicides outnumbers those losses. I personally have two friends of friends who lost young ones to suicide this year.) I know I am privileged to be able to make the choice to homeschool my child. As a self-employed artist and teacher, I can adapt and I will. But I speak up for those who are financially struggling or who risk ending their career by not working full time and have no recourse but to send their children into this system. All of our children deserve better. Any measures taken by the DOE need to be justified by the highest standards of science, health and morality. I have searched, but I find those standards lacking in what our city is forcing upon our children.
Anaïs Alexandra Tekerian
https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/70/wr/mm7010e3.htm The CDC’s own study cites percentage differences effected by mask-wearing that are statistically insignificant. Add to that the problematic nature of the PCR test to begin with and the the certainty expressed in this study goes down to 0.
It is against what is stated by the CDC itself for the DOE to coerce children into being tested against their will. This is from the CDC site:
"Ethical considerations for school-based testing
Testing should not be conducted without informed consent from the individual being tested (if an adult) or the individual’s parent or guardian (if a minor). Informed consent requires disclosure, understanding, and free choice and is necessary for teachers and staff (who are employees of a school) and students’ families to act independently and make choices according to their values, goals, and preferences. Differences in position and authority (i.e., workplace hierarchies), as well as employment and educational status, can affect an individual’s ability to make free decisions. CDC provides guidance and information related to consent for COVID-19 testing among employees. These considerations also apply and can be adapted to school-based testing."
Furthermore, this was released by the Académie Nationale de Médecine of France:
"Nasopharyngeal swabs are not risk-free
Press release of the French National Academy of Medicine April 8, 2021
Nasopharyngeal swabbing followed by detection of the viral genome with RT- PCR has become the gold standard for the diagnosis of SARS-CoV-2 infection. A nasal swab is also required for antigenic testing. In view of the multiplication and repetition of this procedure for getting samples, sometimes carried out under unsuitable conditions, it is important to remember the precautions to be observed and the risks incurred. While some complications can be considered benign (discomfort, pain or bleeding), serious complications have started to be described in the medical literature in recent weeks, especially breaches of the anterior skull base associated with a risk of meningitis [1-3]. […]
in children, to give preference to salivary samples for their safety and acceptability; “
The PCR test that has been used until now has had its EUA revoked because it can apparently not differentiate between SARS-CoV-2 and influenza:
“If SARS-CoV-2 sequencing will not be performed locally and a specimen is available, the state public health laboratory should request the residual clinical respiratory specimen for subsequent shipping to CDC.
For cases with a known RT-PCR cycle threshold (Ct) value, submit only specimens with Ct value ≤28 to CDC for sequencing.
If the Ct value is not known (e.g., positive by antigen test only or by a molecular test that does not provide a Ct value), the positive specimen may still be submitted to CDC for RT-PCR and potential sequencing.”
“Most PCR assays are indicated as an aid for diagnosis, therefore, health care providers must consider any result in combination with timing of sampling, specimen type, assay specifics, clinical observations, patient history, confirmed status of any contacts, and epidemiological information.”
Kary Mullis, winner of the 1993 Nobel prize for discovery of the PCR test: