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GOP House Leader: Mask Mandates Must Be Lifted for Kids First, Not Last: 'Enough is Enough'

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On Thursday, GOP Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington called for an end to COVID school mask mandates nationwide, arguing they are hurting learning and children are the least at risk.

Rodgers comments came during her opening statement for a hearing titled, “Americans in Need: Responding to the National Mental Health Crisis,” being held by the U.S. House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations of the Committee on Energy and Commerce.

The congresswoman is the ranking Republican member of the full House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

“COVID has taken a toll, especially on our children. Our kids are in crisis. A 2020 survey of 3,300 high schoolers found about a third of them unhappy and depressed,” Rodgers said.

“And we’ve seen about a two-and-a-half fold increase in emergency department visits for suicides and self harm among children under the age of 18,” she added.

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Rodgers tweeted, “Enough is enough,” with a clip from her opening statement.

The lawmaker, who has three school-aged children, blamed the youth mental health crisis in part on COVID policies — school closures, forced masking, lockdowns — despite the virus posing a very low risk threat to kids.

Should mask mandates in school end?

Rodgers cited a Tuesday letter from over 40 public school superintendents from eastern Washington, which she represents, to her state’s Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee calling for an end to school mask mandates.

The pandemic and government restrictions are having “an exceptional psychological and social toll on our entire community,” the letter reads, in part.

“We are particularly concerned that the mental health of our students, their families and our staff is such that relief from the restrictions we have strived to follow with fidelity is needed. As other states are now lifting many pandemic restrictions, the pressure has built that we do the same,” the school superintendents further stated.

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Rodgers noted during Thursday’s hearing how schools seem to be the last place to free people from mask requirements.

“Just this week, we saw tens of thousands of people enjoy the Super Bowl unmasked in L.A. But for the kids in that same city, they are forced to continue to mask.”

“How can anyone justify this?” Rodgers asked.

The indoor mask mandate officially ended in California on Wednesday, though it continued statewide in schools, KABC-TV reported.

The school mask mandate will be reassessed at the end of the month.

“Children shouldn’t be treated like vectors of disease. The forced masking, which is undermining the benefits of being in the classroom, cannot be a condition for in-person learning anymore,” Rodgers said.

“We must unmask our children. There’s no excuse why … they should be the last to have the restrictions to be lifted.”

The congresswoman noted that new federal mask guidance is reportedly coming, but so far Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky and Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, continue to want masking in schools, given current COVID rates in the country.

Rodgers disagrees, saying the CDC is relying on flawed studies, like one conducted in Maricopa County, Arizona, last summer.

“These are bad policies that are a part of our sacrificing a generation of children and their future,” she said. “Let’s stop the suffering. Let’s stand on the side of parents and kids.”

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