We are all facing Covid 2.0, while in full swing of our children to returning to academic learning for the 2021-2022 school year. We have many decisions to make… virtual, in-person, homeschool, public school, private school, charter school… and mask or no mask?
For many of us, this means sending them into an in-person environment.
Personally, when I learned that my kids’ school would only be offering a few select spots for virtual learning (mainly for those students who are at-risk and/or immunocompromised), I became more than a little anxious. While I wanted my children to benefit from face-to-face teaching and social interaction with other kids, I didn’t want to put their health at risk, or my own. To make matters more complex, our school district, at the time, was not in a position to enforce a mask mandate. Although homeschooling is a viable option, I am just not mentally prepared to take on that task. As such, my decision to allow my children to attend in-person learning was a hesitant one, but my choice to send them with masks was the best decision for my household.
Protecting My Family
My first priority as a mother is the well-being of my family. I am not a doctor or scientist, but I do my best to research and ask the necessary questions to keep my tribe well. At the end of the day, Covid has claimed and is claiming the lives of many around the globe. To me, it doesn’t matter if the illness in question was the common cold, I want to keep my children’s bodies functioning at an optimal level. So naturally, my motherly instincts are going to kick in and I am going to choose the path that I am convinced will have the best outcome. For me, that is choosing to send my children to school with masks. Seeing family members and close friends become ill with the virus has opened my eyes. Hearing stories of loved ones whose family members, friends, and spouses have died has changed my perspective on life itself. Sending my kids to school with masks gives me a (small) peace of mind in knowing I am doing my part to keep us safe. While I know there is no way to ensure they are wearing their masks at all times, washing their hands after touching things, or remaining a safe distance from other students, I feel that sending them with a mask is best choice for us, until the outbreak is better contained.
I know we live in a highly individualistic society where a common mantra is “live your best life,” but I happen to be one of the many that still care about how my actions affect those around me, and I try to raise my children to do the same. I am aware that I am the captain of my own ship, however, I’d like those that I love to be on that ship as well, enjoying the ride with me. I understand that as an abled-bodied person, I need to be mindful of my behaviors around individuals whose immune systems are not as functional as my own. I would hate to be the reason an immunocompromised individual contracted the virus, knowing that my body would most likely fight it off with ease. I would hate for my children to carry it to another child, whose parents or grandparents are more at-risk than we are. So, I choose to use my free will by wearing a mask to try to help stop the spread of Covid, and all its variants, in a school environment where it is likely to spread.
Teaching My Kids About to Be Accountable
There’s an awesome line in the film Black Panther where Nakia tells T’Challa that “the world watches.” It is a short, yet powerful quote that I hope my children carry with them wherever they go. While they are too young to understand the politics of this crisis, they do understand safety as it relates to health of our community. It is my job to guide them into making the best decisions for themselves, while being mindful of those around us. While I give them limited access to world news, they are aware of the polarity that characterizes this particular pandemic. It is not my job to “pick a side” or judge anyone else for their choices. However, as a mother, I must help them think critically and responsibly, while showing them how their actions influence their results, this includes wearing a mask.
Do What’s Best for You and Yours
Ultimately, human beings are going to do what we do best – follow our own free will. I am not hopeful there will ever be an issue that will be resolved with an unanimous vote across the globe. Variety and difference are a part of this dance called life. As a result, we must choose the ways in which we dance around circumstances as big as a global pandemic that is affecting millions of lives. Personally, my kids aren’t inconvenienced by wearing a mask when asked, and neither am I. Is it annoying at times? Yes. But living in a world where I can pick and choose my battles, wearing a mask until Covid becomes a distant memory (fingers crossed) is not one I am willing to fight.
At the beginning of 2019, I was celebrating my 30th birthday and preparing to finish graduate school. A global pandemic was the last thing on my mind. I would argue that none of us could have predicted this, let alone foresee ourselves still navigating it in 2021. But here we are…let’s do our best.