Open Letter to the Austrian Gov't that's Currently Considering 'Measures' Ahead of the Schoolyear
Please, read my letter--and copy, plagiarise, do whatever, but: write comparable letters (templates in German and English are available) to school boards, state and national governments
Dear readers, apologies for the somewhat reduced frequency of postings as of late. I was busy over the weekend—I’ve drafted an open letter to the Austro-Covidian government (what I call ‘the Committee of Public Safety’, in reference to the absurdities—and atrocities—committed by equally Orwellian institutions in the French Revolution after 1789 and the Revolutions of 1848), which I sent out to virtually all government ministries, their press contacts, and, really, all other email addresses I could find, in all more than 50 different email addresses—it turns out that it’s not that easy to petition the government for redress of grievance, if one doesn’t get any legacy media coverage.
Speaking of legacy media, well, I’m unsure if I’d actually want them to cover this: yes, I sent it to close to 80 email addresses working in the field, but—guess what: no-one bothered to reply. At least one government employee replied (from the Ministry of Labour), informing me that there’s nothing the department can do about this, but at least he recommended a few more people the letter could be sent to.
For a German-language version, please venture over the good people of tkp.at—the Blog for Science & Politics who actually do journalism and read the letter. If you do, and if you found it worthwhile, please consider amending and (or) sharing the letter, in particular within German-speaking countries. Let’s all work together to ensure that at least our children are spared any more of these abominations the political caste calls ‘measures’ or the like.
If you’re in the ‘international’ arena, I’ve translated the letter (see below), and if you find yourself in a jurisdiction that is mulling, or still has, ‘anti-Covid measures’ in place ahead of the schoolyear, please consider sending a version of the below letter to virtually everyone and any institution.
You can obtain a PDF version of the original letter on my LinkedIn profile.
I would also invite all readers and subscribers to help me spread the word.
One last note: all translations and emphases in both the original and the below letter are mine.
An Open Letter to the Austrian Government, in particular Federal Minister Prof. Dr. Martin Polaschek, with regard to the Covid Measures in the School and Academic Year 2022/23
Bergen, 22 Aug. 2022
Dear Federal Minister Professor Polaschek, dear Members of the Federal Government!
With reference to the announcement entitled ‘Safe School’, as a (fellow) academic of the same Alma mater, and as a father, I am writing to you, the Federal Government, and all other parents as well as anyone with responsibility for children and young people.
In the aforementioned announcement, you declare that ‘on Monday, 29 August 2022, all details pertaining to the measures that will apply at the start of this schoolyear will be announced’.
In view of the now intensifying force with which the anti-Covid campaigns, which have not exactly been blessed with success so far, are picking up speed again, I turn to you with the following urgent appeal:
Leave the kids alone!
But—how and why would I call upon you in this way, you may now—rightly—ask.
To answer this question, I would like to present to you my experiences in Norway since the summer of 2020.
This below letter contains the following sections: 1) my experiences in Norway, which may help you to understand the consequences of your decisions; 2) references to selected publications by the Norwegian government and health authorities; and 3) information on the situation in Austria, which may serve as a guideline in view of the many measures taken in the last two school years, which have primarily affected children and young people.
1) Experiences in Norway (summer 2020 to the present)
I would like to take this opportunity to share with you some experiences pertaining to Norwegian school and university life in Vestland since the summer of 2020:
Here, there have been virtually no measures in the area of kindergartens and compulsory schools since the school year 2020/21: no mass testing, no mask mandates—neither for kindergarten children and students nor for teaching staff.
Since our older daughter began attending school in the summer of 2020, there has been one (!) mass test here in Vestland, which was carried out after the Christmas holidays in January 2022: around 110,000 pupils were asked to take a rapid antigen test at home before returning to school. The result speaks for itself: 19 positive tests, to the tune of about 7.5m Norwegian Crowns (about US$ or € 750,000), which was commented on in leading daily Bergens Tidende on 13 January 2022, which complained that these funds could—and should—have been put to better used, for example, school meals
In our younger daughter’s kindergarten, there were reduced opening hours for one week (around Easter 2021), but this was done as a preventative measure. All ‘issues’ that have arisen since spring 2021, such as cancelled trips, reduced activities, or ‘flexible’—i.e., reduced—opening hours, stemmed from staff shortages because so many of them were on sick leave at the same time. I am not aware of a single case in which kindergarten workers have demonstrably been infected with Sars-Cov-2 as a consequence of their daily interaction with children or, beyond any doubt, in the workplace. The same applies also to schools in the winter and spring of 2022.
At the University of Bergen, we switched three or four times between face-to-face, hybrid, and fully remote instruction in the autumn term 2020. Hardly anyone cared enough about these changes, although now that these mandates have come to an end, some of the students—as well as many colleagues—would like to continue working from home.
In mid-August 2022, the academic year has begun: no one wears masks, there have been no checks of ‘vaccination certificates’ and picture IDs at any time, and the entire notion of ‘measures’ and mandates plays no role at all. What did play a role, however—as reported by public broadcaster NRK at the start of school and academic years (16 Aug. 2022), a full 41% of students said they suffered from the consequences of the measures, first and foremost a lack of social exchange.
These numbers are shocking, even more so as they refer to a country that revoked all mandates and measures in February 2022.
2) Select Statements and Publications by the Norwegian Govrenment and Public Health Institutions
With this in mind, both the Norwegian government and the local health authorities recognise that mass-testing of asymptomatic individuals—of all ages—and any associated measures and mandates ‘against Sars-Cov-2 and Covid-19’ do not make any sense.
A report by the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, dated 9 Feb. 2022, clearly states (on p. 4) that ‘any measures prolong the wave of infections, but they do little to nothing to reduce the epidemiological pressure’. The Norwegian government’s decision to subsequently revoke all measures and mandates is evidence-based, and it is grounded in the recognition that these measures ‘hit children and young people hard. Authorities have not sufficiently succeeded in protecting children and young people in line with their stated objectives’, as the Corona Committee held in their report (on p. 12) submitted in April 2022.
The fact that children and teenagers in particular are hardly, if at-all, affected by Sars-Cov-2 or Covid-19 has also been confirmed by Norwegian officials in mid-January 2022 (p. 11), and recognition there of, among other things, also provides the evidentiary foundation for the government’s decision to revoke all measures and mandates in February 2022.
Incidentally, according to official information from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, the current summer wave (of the BA.5 variant in June and July 2022) took place ‘irrespectiv of vaccination status’, although it should be noted that there were about ten times as many ‘vaccinated’ people who, sadly, fell ‘ill with Covid-19 as the main cause’ who ended up in Norwegian hospitals. In week 24-28, there were 99 ‘unvaccinated’ hospitalisations, as opposed to 104 (1-2 doses), 780 (3 doses), and 104 (4 doses) who were ‘vaccinated’ and required hospitalisation (quote on p. 4, hospitalisation data on p. 7).
It should be noted that, according to official figures current as of 21 Aug. 2022, the share of ‘boosted’ individuals in Norway stood at around 54%--which is tantamount to stating that the Omicron BA.5 summer wave hit those with three or more doses the hardest this summer.
3) On the Situation in Austria
Notwithstanding the containment policies of many so-called ‘advanced’ countries, vaccination mandates and Digital Covid Certificates were never introduced in Norway, owing to both practical as well as legal concerns: any (electronic) medical record, such as a vaccination card, is only valid in combination with a government-issued photo ID whose checks may only be carried out, respectively, by public health officials or law enforcement.
‘Outsourcing’ of these tasks—that pertain to state institutions—has never been seriously considered here, while in Austria this was widely practised and thus normalised, to say nothing about the social abysses of bullying and stigmatisation of entire subsets of the population by via mask mandates, or the illegal pressure exerted on ‘unvaccinated’ or ‘under-vaccinated’—by politicians, journalists and teachers.
Apart from the principles of the rule of law, as well as the related issues of data protection and the right to privacy, it is also worth mentioning that labour, as well as occupation and health, legislation continue to apply: in Austria, after consecutive wearing of masks for up to 75 minutes, a break of at least 30 minutes without a mask must be granted. How do you imagine that this can even go hand in hand with ‘normal’ school operations?
Furthermore, I would like to mention children’s rights, which are always upheld in almost every other instance, and which in Austria were incorporated into Federal Constitutional Law by the National Council (Nationalrat) on 20 January 2011 and whose corresponding amendments entered into force on 16 February 2011.
Art. 1 clearly holds:
Every child has the right to the protection and care necessary for his or her well-being, to the best possible development and fulfilment, and to the protection of his or her interests, in particular as seen through the lens of intergenerational justice. The best interests of the child must be a primary consideration in all measures concerning children taken by public and private institutions.
Apart from these constitutional facts, I would like to make yet another, albeit historical, point: until the spring of 2020, at no time in the annals of civilisation, were children and adolescents ordered to bear responsibility for the protection of adults.
Since spring of 2020, however, adults—especially the Federal Government in its ever-changing configuration—citing concern for public health, have abused their authority and placed this responsibility squarely on children and adolescents.
This is legally and constitutionally problematic, historically unique, and morally outrageous.
If, in the context of Covid measures, one considers the pertinent official information, for example the information entitled ‘Psychosocial Health in Schools’ (via gesundheit.gv.at/), the debate about the (re)imposition of mandates this schoolyear becomes a sad farce that only goes, as has so often been the case since spring 2020, to the detriment of our children.
The list of reasons why you are receiving this open letter could easily be extended, but I would like to conclude with the following appeal to you:
As a scholar, I am astonished at your willingness—in the summer of 2022, no less—to once again refuse the mountains of scientific evidence to the contrary and support measures and mandates that will significantly, and negatively so, impact our children.
As a teacher and employee, I am appalled that so far there has hardly been any discussion of the labour and children’s rights involved. Every citizen—and this especially concerns our children, for whom we adults and you as a cabinet-level official of the Federal Government bear increased responsibility—must insist on compliance with the existing law without any exception.
Finally, I turn to you as a parent: please stop these insane mandates. Every available indicator shows that the Norwegian way—hardly any measures in kindergartens and primary schools from summer 2020 until the end of January 2022, and the revocation of all mandates in February of this year—is the better way: here, no child or adolescent wears a ‘mask’ (neither cloth or surgical masks nor FFP2, or KN95, masks), which incidentally also have no effect on the transmission of Sars-Cov-2, as the evidence compiled here clearly shows.
I therefore emphatically appeal to you and all other members of the Federal Government: have the courage to use your own common sense and stand up against such scientifically unfounded, historically unique, and outright harmful mandates that, as was so often the case in the last two and a half years, have worked, above all, to the detriment of our children.
Your and all other children in Austria, as well as, I am convinced of that, many of our country’s parents, will certainly give you credit.
You would, by far, be the only person with governmental responsibility to take this step, as the Norwegian example shows beyond any doubt.
I would like to conclude with the famous phrase from Friedrich Schiller’s Don Carlos:
Geben Sie Gedankenfreiheit! [Grant us liberty of thought]
I remain at your disposal at any time and without reservations on my part, should you wish further information from Norway to assist you in this politically certainly difficult decision.
Best regards, Stephan Sander-Faes
Dear readers, if you found this appeal useful, why not seek out the email address of a school board, state, and (or) national/federal education institution, and send them a like-minded letter.
We owe our children, and I for one cannot maintain my silence on this issue any longer.
Please consider sendind such a letter, or any modification thereof, to any competent authority. If there is anything I can do, please get in touch via the comments below, via email, or my LinkedIn profile.
Thank you, sincerely.