Fall has always been my favorite time of year. As a kid it meant the start of school with learning, sports, friends, and recess.

For our children today, however, a virus called “Covid-19” has changed all of that. The Governor’s orders have forced schools to impose highly restrictive measures on our children, ones which we never could have imagined, much less accepted, just six months ago.

This has not gone well. In schools which have already started, students with special needs are being denied the mask exemption, parents are being forced to leave football games for social distancing but not wearing masks, and college students are choosing to be prisoners in their dorm rooms because masks must be worn everywhere – even outside with social distancing.

I don’t know of one parent who likes this “new normal.” Whether disgusted by the school environment or fearful of the Covid itself, 20 percent of them have elected for their child to go all online, and many have chosen to home school.

Furthermore, parents who work full time must face the impossible task of accommodating either online or hybrid schooling, something which is sending a shock wave through families and finances.

I and many others have asked, “Are the new protocols justified given the negative impact on our children and families and what we now know about the deadliness of the virus?”

The answer is, overwhelmingly, “no.”

Six months ago, we were told that the virus was so deadly that there would be 2.2 million people dead in the U.S. Now we know – and have known for many months – that the virus is nowhere near that. Not only have the number of deaths turned out to be one tenth of that estimate, but just last week the government reported that only 6 percent, or 10,000 of the 190,000 reported deaths nationwide, have been due to Covid alone.

All other deceased persons had other conditions – diabetes, coronary disease, respiratory problems – which severely compromised their health and which even by themselves result in death.

Let’s look at the numbers for Morrow County.

The State reports that for the last six months, there have been two deaths out of a population of 35,000. Both of these persons were over 80 years old. Certainly each death is tragic, and I send my condolences to the families of their loved ones.

However, what this says is that we are sacrificing the development and futures of Morrow County’s 5000 school-age children for two persons who passed away at the average age of death. The State has similar numbers.

This does not make sense.

The long-term damage which we are doing to our children far exceeds the health risks from Covid-19, and our Governor’s orders for schools and school athletics border on torture if not abuse. And this doesn’t even include the increased risk of child abduction and sex trafficking with everyone being unrecognizable in a mask, children and abductors alike.

I am 65 years old, so I am considered to be in the “high risk” category. The Governor has told you that you need to do things like wear a mask so as not to jeopardize my health, and if you don’t, then you’re being selfish. “The mask,” he said in one of his press conferences, “expands liberty, it expands freedom.” Nothing could be further from the truth.

I ask of parents just one thing. If you are truly concerned about the impact which contracting Covid will have on you, your family, and children, then by all means please do what you feel you need to do to protect yourselves. And that probably means avoiding contact with anyone or anything until we’re given the “all clear” signal.

If, however, you feel obligated to do all of the things mandated by our Governor to “save” me — and risk your children’s development and futures in the process — please don’t. It is my job to take care of me, not yours and certainly not your children’s.

If Covid gets me, then it does. Take the masks off of your children, let them play with their friends without social distancing, let parents, grandparents, and community members cheer them on from the stands, and let them have a fighting chance in what is certainly going to be a challenging world. They’re going to need all of the skills and mental fortitude they can develop during their critical years.

Vicki Kerman