My Speech Opposing Masks and COVID Testing at the East Longmeadow School Committee Meeting

Yesterday I spoke to my town’s school committee in opposition to mask mandates and COVID testing for children.

If you’re also against imposing these needless and harmful policies on our kids, then now is the time to contact your school committee members and let them know how you feel.

If you’re reluctant to speak during a public meeting, then at least send each member an email or give them a phone call.

Mask Mandates, Covid Testing, and Vaccine Clinics: Mass. Education Dept. Guidance for Schools

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On July 30, 2021 the Massachusetts school commissioner, Jeffrey C. Riley, released a memorandum entitled “DESE/DPH COVID-19 Guidance for Districts and Schools: Fall 2021.”  In the memorandum Commissioner Riley makes several recommendations for schools.  His recommendations include:

  1. mandating masks for all children in grades K to 6 as well as unvaccinated students in grades 7 to 12.
  2. Implementing diagnostic and screening tests for unvaccinated students and staff,
  3. Implementing contact tracing and quarantine protocols for unvaccinated students and staff, and
  4. Hosting on-site vaccination clinics during either summer orientation or the start of classes.

These recommendations, according to Riley, are made in light of recent updates to the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) “Guidance for COVID-19 Prevention in K-12 Schools.”  Both Mr. Riley’s memorandum and the CDC guidance will be a topic of discussion for school committees throughout the state this month. 

What follows is a summary of the proposed policies as well as some ways parents can protect their kids from the unnecessary physical and emotional harm that may result from these policies.

Risk to Children

Both the education department and the CDC acknowledge that COVID-19 is not a significant threat to children.

In Mr. Riley’s memorandum he states

[E]ven for those students not yet vaccinated, the apparent risk of COVID-19 to children remains small.

This statement is followed by four citations to highly credible sources confirming that the virus is not a serious threat to kids.  (The sources cited were from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, the CDC, and the New England Journal of Medicine.)

Likewise, the CDC acknowledges that children are less susceptible to COVID-19.

[M]ultiple studies have shown that transmission rates within school settings…are typically lower than—or similar to—community transmission levels.  See Page 4 of the CDC guidance.

At least one study by the CDC was summarized as follows:

Data from China suggests that pediatric coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases might be less severe than cases in adults and that children (persons aged <18 years) might experience different symptoms than adults.

These scientific findings are blatantly obvious to anyone who has active and social children.   

If COVID-19 is not a serious threat to our children’s health, why would we subject them to the highly intrusive and disruptive recommendations of Commissioner Riley and the CDC?

Mask Mandate

The commissioner’s memorandum “strongly recommends that all students in kindergarten through grade 6 wear masks when indoors.”  In addition, the education department, “strongly recommends that unvaccinated staff in all grades, unvaccinated students in grade 7 and above, and unvaccinated visitors wear masks indoors.”

Challenges to Governor Baker’s mask mandate were unsuccessful in court.  For example, see Delaney v. Baker, US District Court Civil Action No. 20-11154-WGY. 

However, there are significant differences between the governor’s mask order case and the proposed school mask mandate.  1. The state of emergency which was the authoritative basis for the original mask mandate is over; and 2. The proposed school mandate is imposed on only unvaccinated children, even though the CDC acknowledges that vaccinated people can contract and spread the virus.

(According to the CDC guidance, “fully vaccinated people get infected [breakthrough infections], even with the Delta variant” and “preliminary evidence suggests that fully vaccinated people who are infected with the Delta variant can be infectious and can spread the virus to others.” See Page 5 of the CDC guidance.)

So a new legal challenge could legitimately be made against any school district that imposes the recommended mask requirement.

A less costly and more practical way to challenge such a mandate is simply to go to your next school committee meeting and tell the members that you don’t want masks imposed on your kids.  If you can’t make the next meeting, call or email each of the members and give them a piece of your mind.

If they don’t listen, vote them out.

COVID-19 Testing

More troubling than the mask mandate is the proposed testing procedures recommended by the education department and the CDC. 

Commissioner Riley recommends:

COVID-19 testing – Districts and schools are highly encouraged to maintain or establish a robust plan for COVID-19 testing in schools, including both diagnostic testing and screening (pooled) testing for students and staff.

Testing would be done using BinaxNOW, a swab inserted into the back of the child’s nose.  The CDC recommends that such testing be conducted weekly on at least 10% of unvaccinated students whenever the “community transmission” rate is at “moderate, substantial, or high levels.”  The CDC defines “moderate community transmission” as at least 10 COVID cases per 100,000 persons—in other words .001% of the general population.

So, in a town like mine, which has only 16,000 people, just 2 cases of COVID in the general population would trigger the burden of weekly testing for our students.

All parents must understand that they have the legal right to refuse the use of such testing on their children.  (See Felder v. Children’s Hospital Corp., 97 Mass. App. Ct. 620, as well as 243 Code Mass. Regs. § 2.07(26) and M.G.L. c. 208, § 31.)

Furthermore, a school cannot share a child’s records (including medical records) without a parent’s consent.  See 20 U.S. Code § 1232g Family Education and Privacy Rights.

Parents opposed to these measures, should write to their child’s school and superintendent and state in no uncertain terms that your child is not to be tested.

The CDC even acknowledges the parent’s rights to informed consent.  The last section of their guidance states:

Testing should be conducted with informed consent from the person being tested (if an adult) or the person’s parent or guardian (if a minor), consistent with applicable state laws related to consent. Informed consent requires disclosure, understanding, and free choice, and is necessary for teachers, staff (who are employees of a school) and students’ families, to act independently and make choices according to their values, goals, and preferences.

Additionally,

Consider distributing consent forms with the other paperwork for returning to school and making them easily accessible.

Finally, the CDC recommends that such testing should focus more on older students rather than the young.

The burden of testing is likely to be higher for younger children and therefore screening testing may be more feasible and acceptable for older children and adolescents.

Again, the vaccinated are excluded from these tests even though the CDC acknowledges that they can contract and spread COVID.

Contact Tracing and Quarantine Protocols

Commissioner Riley and the CDC both suggest implementing contact tracing and quarantine protocols.  The CDC proposes that those unvaccinated students who have come within a few feet of an infected person, a “close contact,” should be removed from school for 14 days regardless of negative test results.

The guidance states,

Close contacts who are not fully vaccinated should be referred for COVID-19 testing. Regardless of test result, they should quarantine at home for 14 days after exposure. 

Commissioner Riley prefers to implement a highly intrusive “test and stay” protocol. 

Under test and stay, asymptomatic close contacts will have the option to remain in school and be tested daily with BinaxNOW for at least 5 days.  Vaccinated staff and students are exempt from quarantine.

Forcing students to stay home after they test negative for COVID is unreasonable and contradictory to the existing contagious disease statute (M.G.L. c. 71, § 55) which states that a child exposed to an infectious disease must be readmitted to school upon the presentation of “a certificate from the board of health or its duly appointed agent that the danger of conveying such disease by such child has passed.”

Vaccine Clinics

Most alarming of all, is Commissioner Riley’s recommendation that schools institute on-site vaccine clinics.

We urge all schools…to host an on-site vaccination clinic during summer orientation events or when classes begin. A DPH-approved mobile vaccination provider, including clinic staff and vaccination administrators, will be provided free of charge.

There is not much detail about these mobile clinics in either Riley’s memo or the CDC guidance.  However, parents have the right to informed consent before their children can be treated with any vaccine.

If you object to exposing your child to the vaccine, it’s important that you let the school know immediately in writing.

If you have questions or need help, email me at justin@jrmccarthy.com

Now Is Not the Time to Change School Vaccine Laws

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The last thing anyone wants is another article about COVID-19.  I’m tired of reading them and I’m reluctant to write one.  But I feel the need to speak out on behalf of my children and other parents who share my beliefs.

Two bills have been presented in our state legislature seeking to amend or replace the state’s current school vaccine law.

The current law (M.G.L. c. 76, § 15) is plainly worded and easy for any parent to understand.  A child must be immunized against certain common diseases (e.g., measles, polio, tetanus, etc.) before attending school.  The statute provides two exemptions.  First, a child is exempt if his or her doctor certifies that the child’s health would be endangered by vaccination.  Second, a child is also exempt if his or her parent states in writing that vaccination conflicts with the family’s religious beliefs.

House Bill H.2411 would amend the current statute by deleting, in its entirety, the religious-belief exemption.  A separate senate bill (S.1517) seeks to completely replace the existing statute with a new series of laws that should concern all parents.

The proposed senate bill, entitled “An Act promoting community immunity”, would greatly expand the scope of the existing immunization law which currently applies to only schools.  If enacted, the bill would impose immunization requirements on almost every childhood group activity: day cares, preschools, recreational camps, etc. 

It would eliminate the narrowly defined diseases that the existing law covers and, instead, authorize the Department of Public Health to choose what vaccinations are needed on an ad hoc basis.

It seeks to replace the straight-forward exemption criteria with a convoluted bureaucratic application process which gives the public health department authority to deny religious-belief exemptions.    

Finally, it turns child programs into data collection agencies.  All of the groups covered by the proposed law must collect and report immunization data to the Department of Public Health on a regular basis.  If a program has a higher than average rate of unvaccinated participants, it will be targeted by public health officials as an “elevated risk program.”  Such programs must then disseminate “elevated risk” notices to their participants and may be subjected to “outreach” efforts by health officials.

Thus, the overall purpose of the proposed law is to tighten or eliminate exemptions, expand government power, and generally make life difficult for those who are unwilling to submit to the state’s agenda.  It’s also glaringly obvious that these proposed laws are laying the groundwork to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations in schools and most other youth activities.

At what point is the COVID fear and hysteria going to stop?  I believe that it’s time to draw the line when it comes to our children.  If you are a parent who is unwilling to subject your child to a highly potent, hastily prepared vaccine, then I’m asking you to speak out against these bills.

Contact your state representative and tell him or her to reject H.2411.  Likewise, tell your state senator that you oppose S.1517.  Lastly, make it known to the governor himself that he should veto these bills or any version of them that appears on his desk for approval.

On behalf of your children, it’s time to speak up.

Preparation vs. Results – Law School and Legal Practice

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One of the few similarities of law school and legal practice is the seemingly backwards relationship between preparation and results. Almost every law student has at least one story about working hard in a particular class and receiving a poor grade for their efforts. Conversely, the same student will have a story about doing very little in a class and getting a good grade nonetheless. This disconnection between preparation and results continues when students leave law school and begin their legal careers. In this video I discuss my experiences over the past 10 years of legal practice and give my thoughts on coping with the subjectivity and arbitrariness of legal results.

Title Fraud Insurance in Massachusetts

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Over the past year or two I’ve seen a growing number of high-budget ads for “title fraud insurance.” As with all forms of insurance, its persuaive sales people tell you nightmare stories about what might happen to you if you don’t buy their product. But are these stories true? Can someone really “steal” ownership of your home? In this video I discuss title fraud insurance and whether its worth the investment.

Need legal help? Email justin@jrmccarthy.com

Clients: How to Get Them and How to Work with Them

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No business can survive without clients. To succeed, every business owner must find an effective, sustainable way of getting clients–whether that’s by advertising, networking, or developing a referral systems with colleagues.

Lawyers and other professionals must also make it as easy as possible for potential clients to employ their services. This means promptly returning a prospect’s phone calls or emails and using docusign or other software that allows service contracts to be signed electronically.

Finally, to minimize stress and frustration, business owners must be willing to turn away undesirable clients and to part ways with existing clients who create needless problems.

Need legal help? Email justin@jrmccarthy.com

Do Lawyers Exaggerate the Severity of Legal Problems?

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Lawyers, like all other professionals, sometimes exaggerate the severity of the problems they deal with.  What might be a small legal issue can be blown out of proportion when an attorney explains the matter to a lay person using hyperbolic terms.

Why do some lawyers do this? It seems lawyers engage in this behavior for a few reasons.

1. It encourages people to hire the lawyer.  Here’s a common example.  For most people the probate process in Massachusetts is about the same whether you die with or without a will.  A will does save some money and time during the probate process and there are circumstances in which a will greatly reduces the cost of administering an estate.  But in most cases a will makes little difference.  Nevertheless, almost every estate planning attorney will describe the probate process as a total nightmare that can only be avoided only by employing him or her to draft your will or living trust.

2.  By exaggerating the nature of a client’s problem, the lawyer’s advice seems much more valuable.  For example, a few years ago I advised an elderly couple to take their house out of their name.  The circumstances were such that it was the best way for the couple to qualify for state aid with their nursing home bills and to avoid liens which could result from the aid.  The family knew a tax attorney who told the couple that my advice was “tax suicide” because, in her opinion, it would result in a higher tax rate when they sold the property.  Although the threat of losing the house due to nursing home aid was more substantial than the possibility of paying higher taxes in the future, the couple went with the tax attorney’s advice because it was proposed in more ominous terms.

3.  Finally, lawyers exaggerate the severity of problems to win arguments with other attorneys.  As with the prior example, lawyers often disagree with each other regarding what’s best for a person legally.  Often it’s the lawyer who can create the most fear in the client that wins the argument. 

Hiring Movers for the Day of Your Closing — Often a Gamble

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Hiring a moving company for the day of your closing can be a gamble. These companies often charge hundreds of dollars per hour. Overly optimistic buyers schedule the movers for the morning of the closing, often at 8 or 9 am. Unfortunately, buyers can’t move in to the new house until the deed is recorded at the registry of deeds. And that usually does not happen until late in the afternoon, often at 3 or 4 pm. This causes a tremendous amount of added stress for the buyers on closing day and leaves them with yet another big bill to pay at part of the closing process.

Need legal help? Email justin@jrmccarthy.com

Can You Be Pro-Police and Anti-Government?

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If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that police throughout the Western world will not hesitate to forcefully impose arbitrary and absurd government regulations. 

Consider just a few examples from this month alone.  In Australia a pregnant mother was arrested in front of her family for a Facebook post inviting fellow Aussies to an anti-lockdown protest.[1]  In Spain a fourteen-year-old boy who refused to wear a mask was thrown to the ground by an officer who then kneeled on the boy’s back as he screamed in pain.[2]  In the US two policemen removed a mother and her year-old child from an airplane because the infant’s face was not covered.[3]  Most disturbing of all, police in Quebec have been quietly seizing and detaining healthy citizens who have refused to comply with the city’s COVID-19 regulations.[4]

All of these incidents were reported with indignation by pundits in the right-wing media.  Conservative commentators rightfully warn us that government is overstepping its bounds and that we may be the next to get an unwanted visit from the police or even a shove to the ground and a knee to the back. 

Yet it’s the same right-wing pundits who are the first to defend the most excessive police brutality whenever someone refuses to comply with an officer’s orders.  They faithfully “back the blue” with almost blind loyalty and even support arming the police with military-style weapons and equipment. 

Do these conservatives fail to see their own contradictions?

Ask yourself: if full-fledged socialism comes to the Western world, who will be on the frontline imposing it?  It won’t be the beta-male bureaucrats forcing you to comply.  It will be the “thin, blue line” of the police—equipped with their military-grade weaponry—that will physically force you to obey orders.  Don’t think they’ll do it?  Just look at the cases I cited. 

I am not advocating defunding the police.  No sane person would propose that.  Nor am I suggesting that a police force is antithetical to a free society.  We need cops.  Rather, I’m asking conservatives to reflect for a moment on their contradictory views.  Government and law enforcement are one and the same.  You cannot be critical of laws that infringe on our liberties while praising the men and women who dutifully enforce those laws—if necessary with violence.

Our freedom depends on a healthy skepticism towards government.  That skepticism should be applied to all facets of the state, especially the police.


[1] https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2020/09/02/pregnant-woman-arrested-over-anti-lockdown-event-australia/5693574002/

[2] https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/12634607/cop-kneels-neck-boy-george-floyd-mask/

[3] https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8715603/WestJet-canceled-flight-dispute-toddler-mask-rules-caused-rapid-escalation-board.html

[4] https://summit.news/2020/09/09/quebec-city-says-it-will-isolate-uncooperative-citizens-in-secret-corona-facility/