Thursday, June 30, 2022
June 30, 2022

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Cheers & Jeers: Good, bad of mask protests

The Columbian
Published:

Cheers: To Washougal students. While we disagree with their beliefs, cheers go to students at Washougal High School who this week protested the state’s indoor masking mandate. On Monday, as many as 100 students gathered outside the school in protest; smaller gatherings took place Tuesday and Wednesday.

Video shows one student telling the group: “This is not an excuse for any freshmen or sophomores to disrespect their teachers. We want this to be a peaceful, respectful movement — we are just trying to gain back our rights as citizens.” Washougal Principal Sheree Gomez-Clark said: “The students were very respectful. They followed the district’s policy for organized protests. We fully support our students participating in their civic duties; they’ve been mature about it.” Numerous court rulings have determined that the students’ rights have not been violated. But they are within their rights to stand up for their beliefs, and they should be applauded for being civically engaged.

Jeers: To Washougal parents. A Washougal school board meeting was recently postponed because of “a group of attendees who refused to comply with the posted health guidance and did not respond to repeated requests to wear a mask,” a district official told the Camas-Washougal Post-Record. Board members reconvened two days later for a remote meeting.

Intransigence in violation of legal state mandates is no way to get your point across. Some of the adults in Washougal should take a cue from their students and consider a more effective way to demonstrate their disagreement with mask mandates.

Cheers: To Hanford cleanup. Workers at the site near Richland have started the first large-scale treatment of radioactive and chemical wastes from large underground storage tanks. The Associated Press characterizes the development as a “key milestone” in cleaning up the site, which for decades produced plutonium for the United States’ nuclear arsenal.

The federal government has been slow to act on its duty to clean up Hanford. The site is near the Columbia River, approximately 200 miles upstream from Vancouver, and is regarded as the nation’s most contaminated waste site. Cleaning up Hanford is essential to the health of the Columbia River and to communities downstream.

Jeers: To COVID-19. Clark County health officials reported 30 deaths this week attributed to coronavirus, the largest toll since the pandemic began two years ago. Infection rates have dipped slightly compared with recent weeks, but remain high.

The omicron variant of the virus, which is the cause of most infections these days, is generally less lethal than previous variants. But it also is highly transmissible, and the death toll indicates the need for continued precautions. Vaccines have proven to be safe and effective in preventing the most severe symptoms.

Cheers: To the Clark County Elections Office. A small Columbian article this week noted that the elections office will conduct a hand count of about 600 randomly selected ballots in next week’s special election, ensuring that counting machines are accurate. Notably, officials have been doing that for years.

For each election, one race is selected for a hand count of 600 ballots, and the count is then certified by a panel of observers. Results of the manual counts are posted on the office’s website for every election since 2018. Critics who repeat lies about elections being fraudulent or mismanaged should examine the detailed measures taken to ensure fair and accurate elections.

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