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Parents and their children protest Monday outside a school board meeting at the Charleston County School District building. Andrew J. Whitaker/Staff

Charleston County schools had 74 students test positive for the coronavirus last week.

That’s twice as many as the week before spring break, but still amounts to only 0.15% of students — barely more than one-tenth of 1 percent.

Some would argue that is statistically negligible.

But by that standard, why should the Charleston County School Board base health and safety decisions on the complaints of just 0.05% of parents?

Which is about how many showed up at a board meeting last week demanding that their kids be allowed to attend schools sans masks.

Anyone who’s been in a school lately understands their frustration.

It stinks that these kids have their formative years plagued by a global pandemic. But honestly, most of them have adjusted better than some of the parents ... a few of whom act like your HOA’s Kraken Karen on steroids.

The school board demonstration was, of course, largely political.

For the past year, some people have cherry-picked every sliver of fact possible to justify their cavalier attitude toward a disease that has killed 570,000 U.S. residents.

For instance, several protesters cited a Stanford University study that says masks don’t work against COVID-19. Trouble is, that’s baloney.

The truth is, some guy who was once on Stanford’s campus published a “theoretical paper” claiming masks don’t work in a periodical called — no joke — “Medical Hypotheses.”

Actual health experts say different.

The Charleston County School District takes its advice from the Medical University of South Carolina, a professional health care institution staffed by people who didn’t get their degrees off Facebook. And MUSC says unequivocally that masks help slow the spread of COVID-19.

As School Board member Cindy Bohn Coats notes, the masks, Plexiglas and social distancing recommended by health experts helped the district avoid a single school shutdown this year.

“Hallelujah — it all worked,” she says. “We don’t know which one of those things was most effective, but we aren’t taking those masks off before the end of school.”

But Coats says we shouldn’t ridicule protesters; we should show a little compassion. They have reason to be anxious, she says, because last year the district updated its plans weekly. Now, it’s weakly.

Maybe administrators are waiting to avoid making plans that may change, but she’s right — it’s not helpful. A void of information, in a sea of misinformation, can scare and confuse people.

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Of course, it’s also not helpful for political activists and internet trolls (not generally known for membership in the AMA) to egg on this malarkey.

Reuters had to publish a story debunking claims that kids are dying from wearing masks. One doctor told me masks don’t work because COVID-laced spittle can get in your eye.

Which is misdirection that avoids the real point: A mask — like doctors and nurses have worn for decades — is to prevent the wearer from potentially infecting others.

So in essence, the “freedom” they’re fighting for is the one that allows them to spread a virus to others. Bet they hum a different national anthem when it comes to smoking in restaurants.

Some are so convinced of conspiracy that I get anonymous emails questioning the credentials of MUSC officials.

Yes, those people spent years in medical school just so they could one day embarrass people by making them wear a mask in the Food Lion.

These arguments aren’t much different than those from anti-vaxxers, who are here to warn us about the dangers of vaccination because they never succumbed to polio.

Fact is, COVID-19 cases have dropped by nearly a third in Charleston County over the past couple of weeks.

Right now, we are seeing an average of 10 cases per day per 100,000 people. Which is encouraging.

But among the unvaccinated, it’s 18 cases per day per 100,000 people.

And among those who’ve

not been vaccinated and haven’t had the virus in the past five months, which provides temporary immunity, the number is 37 cases per day per 100,000.

Health experts say vaccines are quelling the general spread, but there’s an outright surge among the unvaccinated.

So, some of the people complaining the most about remedies to stem the virus’ spread are the ones prolonging the need for those measures.

Which is just genius.

Those people should take note that there’s cause for optimism: Actual experts believe that, by next school year, we will be much closer to normal and need far fewer safety measures in classrooms.

No thanks to some folks.

Reach Brian Hicks at bhicks@postandcourier.com.