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Masks: Why Are We Still Having This Fight?

Your great grand-dad didn’t fight in a forgotten war for you to not wear a mask

You may have been appraised by your sister’s boyfriend Deuce that the CDC updated their masking guidance. Now – likely, Deuce has elevated this to some sort of government overreach where nobody has individual rights and everyone is some drone of the government machine. But really, the CDC has simply recommended that, even if you’re vaccinated, you wear a mask inside. They’ve also recommended that K-12 schools still employ masking for the upcoming school year. Language matters, and there are no “requirements” as of yet.

Recommendations do not immediately equal requirements. Nonetheless, people went BONKERS, none more so than the parents that don’t want their kids masking in the Fall.

Being a teacher is a lot like being a mother. Everyone has an opinion, and you’re never doing anything right – ever. This holds true for masks, everyone has an opinion, and the most vocal of these people are parents and legislatures who did very little to study the pandemic in children. They are also people who have never taught in a classroom. I’m a teacher, I lived in a state where we re-opened last August, and I taught middle school for an entire year in a mask. Let me tell you what it’s really like.

We opened in August of last year, and remained open the entire school year. My school never closed because of outbreaks, my son’s school (a high school) had to close multiple times. I’m not an expert, but I believe my school didn’t close because younger children didn’t get tested the same way adults and sports ball players got tested.

You see, this is how it would start: A student comes to school looking a bit peakish. I’d tell them “go get your temperature taken.” They would. They come back – oh they’re fine, no clinical fever. Ok, cool, but they’re still coughing so I make sure they wear their mask correctly. They go home, whatever.

That sick student would then just disappear for a few days. Eventually, I’d get an email saying “so and so’s family has Covid so they have to quarantine.” Ok…but that student never got tested, and this is the important part. Kids were not getting tested. Parents were. Why the disparity? I’m not sure, but I’d guess it has to do with accessing the Covid benefits given by the state if they had to miss work.

Because the student was not a positive case, only presumptive positive, it didn’t count for school closure. A few days later, the kid who sat next to that student disappears. Their family got Covid.

Is it spread or coincidence? I genuinely don’t know. However, this is my anecdotal evidence. The same thing happened time and time again all year…with masking in place.

States, including mine, have made it illegal to require masks in school. With the Delta variant, and children under twelve ineligible for the vaccine, kids will get sick! The virus will not only spread in schools, with who knows what long term effects, the virus will spread in families. This is not fear mongering, it’s absolute truth. Virus’s spread and they will spread faster and easier with no masks. No masks combined with an entire building full of non-immunes…well K-12 schools are basically opening up a Covid Buffet.

Ok…so what?

A lot of anti-maskers drum the tired out refrain of “let the parents decide.” They do this anytime they’re uncomfortable with something; history, sex-ed, you name it. Here’s the problem with that, those parents are deciding the health of me, my kid, and my community, and they are throwing it in the trash. Generally, they are not medical experts, weighing the scientific facts and making the best choice for their children. They are people with strong beliefs who are re-acting to the stew of misinformation that right wing television personalities are stirring.

And look, I’m not here to bash your TV choices (though if you’re not watching Ted Lasso I don’t know what you’re doing with your life) but, when you get all your masking information from Tucker Carlson, you don’t get to decide my health outcomes. Experts should do that. Not legislatures, not parents, not even teachers. Experts. If experts (like, IDK the CDC) recommend that we should wear masks in schools – then we should.

So what do you do? What if you’re in a state, like me, where it’s illegal for districts to require masking? Well, show up to your board meetings, for one, because the Anti-Maskers will. Two, send your kid to school in a mask, a strong one if you can get it. Three, if you haven’t been vaccinated, and somehow you’re reading this article and have been persuaded by it, then get vaccinated. Four, get your kids vaccinated if you can. Five, troll your favorite Senator whom you love to hate.

As for me? My four kids are all vaccinated, and they will all be wearing a mask to school. I will also wear a mask to teach. It is, quite literally, the least we can do to help our own global community.

By mshipstory

Hi!

I'm Lindsay Adams. I'm passionate about history, teaching, and writing.

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