Editor’s Note: While California lifted the requirement for students to wear masks in schools starting March 12, a recommendation for students to wear protective facial covering to slow the spread of Covid-19 remains in place.
This My Shot was written prior to the announcement of the removal of the school mask mandate.
Covering our children’s faces hides their joy.
Covering their joy hides their strength.
Covering their strength hides their beauty.
We need the joy, strength, and beauty of our children to be uncovered.
Masks should not be required in our schools.
Joy-filled relationships are a foundation for childhood development and maturity. Returning to joy after the trauma of mask mandates is facilitated by granting forgiveness.
As our state moves toward dropping the mask mandates (as more than half of the states have already done), I am cognizant of letting the children in my life know we can all forgive the persons who are delaying this decision to drop masks in schools.
Thankfully, our children’s strength will be honored and respected as we give them a chance to choose if they will wear a mask at school or not, and to not be punished if they choose to not wear a mask.
Our children have used admirable strengths of obedience in the wearing of masks. However, I believe the covering of their faces diminishes their strength to be resilient in the daily ups and downs of school and home life. Strength comes forth as emotional immunity to disappointments, and I am so grateful for their emotional immunity in the face of many changes in their lives.
Freedom to breathe normally and not fiddle constantly with something strapped to their ears will create exuberance we cannot even imagine. They will have instant connectivity with their fellow classmates and teachers.
A smile brightens their own face and the faces of those around them. A quivering lip can show their need for a kind word of encouragement when they are sad or overwhelmed. A spark of anger in tense lips can be a sign that they are afraid and want assurance that everything is going to be okay. Laughter makes their hearts merry, and allowing the exuberance of their countenances to be seen on their faces gives others feelings of contentment. Emotion expressed in their faces is so beautiful.
I believe we have the responsibility to our children to give them a chance to live unmasked in school. What joy, strength, and beauty will be spread, and instantaneously. Seeing their teacher’s smiles again will be exhilarating. Feeling the joy expressed on the faces of their fellow classmates will be truly life-giving.
~ Vicki Garrett moved to Tahoe City with her husband and two young daughters from Guam in 1986. She enjoys helping children and family members who struggle in reading, writing, spelling, and math. She loves to walk and snowshoe in the winter and paddleboard in the summer.