I write in response to Rev. Dr. Thomas Salsgiver, whose letter to the editor on PennLive claimed that my call for parental choice about masks in schools is allowing children to be harmed. When someone wants to take a shot at me for jeopardizing the safety of our children, I feel the need to respond.

I’ve spent the better part of my life fighting for our children, parents, and our communities. Safety and security has always been my top priority as a United States Marshal and Senator. I’ve arrested child sex offenders and put them behind bars and authored school safety bills and legislation increasing penalties for luring a child – all to make our children safer.

And while I speak as a father of four, whose kids are and have been in educational settings, I also speak on behalf of the constituents who are parents that have contacted me wanting a choice when it comes to masking their children in schools.

For months the governor stated that he would not impose a mask mandate and supported local control on the issue. However, it became clear in recent weeks that was only the case when he thought school boards themselves would require masks. As the start of school approached and the majority of school districts had not yet mandated masks, the governor sent a letter to the General Assembly seeking legislative action to impose a mask mandate for schools – knowing full well that the legislature would not do so.

Having been denied the result he wanted by school boards and the legislature, the governor then had his acting secretary of health, with no medical background and serving as an unelected and unconfirmed bureaucrat, issue an order imposing this mask mandate on all schools across the Commonwealth.

We all want to protect children, and no one cares more than the parents and school administrators in our communities. That’s where the decision regarding student masking should be made – at the local level. For months, these local leaders have been crafting Health and Safety Plans and holding public meetings to receive input on them, all for the governor to blatantly disregard the ability of our school boards and administrators to make decisions that are right for their individual communities.

The hypocrisy of Governor Wolf’s recent mandatory masking order on our children of this state doesn’t make any sense. During school hours they need to be masked, yet after school hours with mom and dad they can walk into any restaurant, grocery store, or department store unmasked. Kids can have birthday parties, playdates, and sleepovers together or even participate in extracurricular activities without wearing masks. Why? The logic is nonexistent. The governor and his team are just looking for another power grab, and they are parroting the democratic rhetoric to “trust the science.”

The “science” surrounding COVID-19 has been flawed and ever-changing from the beginning, so exactly what science are we to trust? When it comes to consensus in science, truths include physics, mathematics, and chemistry, but the field of medicine is divided in many ways – and not just when it comes to COVID. That is why so many people seek second and third opinions when they receive a diagnosis or are told they will need surgery for a certain condition.

There will always be argument and debate when it comes to health-related topics because the science isn’t foolproof, and it isn’t one size fits all for every human being. I continue to hear that we all must do as we are told for the greater good, but physicians treat people individually, not society as a whole, for a reason.

We all have the right to decide what is best for our bodies and health. And in this case, a parent should maintain their right to make health decisions for their children, not a lame duck Governor. Let’s not forget that this Governor has kept Pennsylvanians down by closing your businesses, denying you entry to church, and locking you in your homes. This is just one more attempt at controlling your life and the conditioning of your children. When will this lunacy end? COVID will be over when the masses say so. Speak up. Your freedom depends on it.