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critical thinking

The purpose of the assignment is to give you an opportunity to use the skills developed
throughout the course to evaluate an extended argument text. You should evaluate the
argument using any of the methods we have covered that you consider relevant to the text.
You also are allowed to do research if you think that will assist in your evaluation (e.g. If a
claim is made in the text and you need to check if it’s true).
Concise and economical writing is required. Assignments that are longer than 1000
words (not including the standardisation) will not be favourably viewed: the excess words
will not be marked.
Make sure you reference any sources you use, but doing research outside these texts is not a
requirement.
1. Do a broad standardisation of the main text (10 marks)
2. Evaluate the arguments in the article and whether or not they sufficiently support the
main claim/conclusion. (30 marks).
Ensure that you discuss:
a. The use of rhetoric in the article
b. Evaluate any particular argument types that you recognise from class (e.g.
conditional, generalisations, analogical, causal etc) in both the main and
supplementary texts
c. Comment on and evaluate any fallacies you find in the text
d. Comment on the strength of any remaining inferences and plausibility of any
unsupported premises (may require research)
e. Give an overall conclusion of whether the argument is good or bad, summarising
your findings by weighing up the evidence.
Note that you are allowed to copy premises/conclusions from the text for your
standardisation where relevant. However, make sure to reword where necessary to improve
clarity or context (as you learned in class).
Text to evaluate:
In March, masks were considered a scarce commodity for health care workers. There was
little debate around their effectiveness; it was primarily a hunt to secure them. The generous
outpouring and combined dedication of Canadians, however, supplied the missing personal
protective equipment (PPE), facilitated containment measures, and flattened the ominously
rising curve.
Now with five weeks before schools reopen, the once unified approach to conquering COVID19 has deteriorated into a cacophony of mixed messages. From East to West, Canadian public
health officials and politicians have adopted a patchwork of policies and practices on maskwearing. You will need a mask to get a haircut — but not if you are standing in a classroom
in September, for eight hours a day, teaching twenty potentially infectious children. In the
meantime, nut jobs far and wide have taken to the streets, practically spitting in each-other’s
faces protesting that masks deny their freedom.
Given that the CDC and WHO recommend masks, it is astounding (and unconscionable) that
not only individuals but also some Canadian school boards have opted to negate the evidence
of the importance of masks. We absolutely must follow whatever guidelines the CDC and
WHO have without question. And yet, only Nova Scotia has mandated masks in schools. What
is even more bizarre is how divided opinions have become about the topic. The reasons
touted for why children can’t wear masks have ranged from fear that “there is no added
benefit” (then why would medical professionals wear them?) to “my child won’t be able to
stand them” (how then does one wear a ski mask for hours?) to “my child won’t know how
to wear a mask” (but developmental milestones state that a 5-year-old can be taught to use
utensils and toilets, so why not masks?) to “it’s not what Canadians do” (so culture trumps
safety?). The same parents who are complaining about the masks probably also complained
about the lack of sneeze guards and hygiene on salad bars.
Even after seven months of deliberation, Canadians have no national mask policy. Pathetic.
Children will be sent back to public schools in regular size classrooms totally unmasked.
Does no one care about these children or their families? It’s like sending soldiers to war with
no protective equipment, and Canadians would never stand for that. In the absence of moral
leadership and political will, desperate parents are now considering sending their children
out of town to avoid the inevitable community spread. The idea sends shivers down my
spine, and is reminiscent of World War II when families shipped their children off to the
countryside in order to spare them from the devastating effects of war. It is well known that
adverse childhood experiences such as separation from family can lead to significant
emotional and physical sequelae. These desperate solutions to avoid infection will only
compound the anxiety and fear children have already experienced through this pandemic.
Masks are a cost-effective solution to the dilemma of reopening schools full time, particularly
when they are used as part of a larger containment strategy. For working families, full-day,
in-person schooling is the only viable option. And, since all children of working families must
go to school where masks are not required and anyone at such a school is in danger, all
children of working families are in danger.
Some children are excellent vectors for this virus, since asymptomatic rates as high as 40 per
cent, in order to ensure the safety of the population we must enforce mask-wearing. Mask
wearing does prevent transmission. Studies show that a reduction in infection (from all
respiratory viruses) for mask wearers by 40% relative to controls[1]. Based on a South
Korean study of nearly 65,000 kids, even slightly older children (over 10 years of age) can
transmit this virus as much as adults. Among various changes needed for safe school return,
cloth masks prevent droplet transmission and would be a warranted approach to reduce
community spread. In Singapore, the government has invested in designing and distributing
reusable, comfortable antimicrobial cloth masks for every citizen. The expectation is that
everyone, barring the very young, can learn how to use masks safely and effectively.
If we allow kids to go back to school without masks, they will spread the disease amongst
themselves. Then they will spread the disease to their parents and eventually their
grandparents, who are the most vulnerable. This will cause many deaths. Some argue that
powerful political figures, such as Donald Trump, do not support mask-wearing. But Trump
has never understood or cared about science. Further, he is a conservative, and
conservatives are far more likely to support conspiracy theories over legitimate evidence.
Canadian school boards should follow suit and mandate masks for all children ages 5 and up
(except for those with medical exemptions). Fastidious symptom screening, physical
distancing, and hand hygiene are also crucial. Singapore, Denmark, and other European
countries have reduced classroom sizes and allowed for outdoor learning to reduce
transmission risks. We should follow their example. In Denmark, infection rates have not
skyrocketed, and schools continue to remain open.
In the ideal world, Canadian public schools would have the same resourceful plans as our
Danish and Singaporean counterparts: happy children sitting six feet apart, learning and
socializing in outdoor or well-ventilated classrooms, in small groups, with reduced school
hours and government-provided masks. Canadian children deserve a safe start in
September. It is time to act now — or the unmasking of o

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