Parents deserve a say in school mask mandates



David Alvarado

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul lifted the statewide mask mandate in New York, excluding schools, on Feb. 10, sparking controversy among parents who no longer want to their kids wearing face masks. Parents should have the right to decide how to keep their children safe on their terms.

New York has one of the highest vaccination rates in the country, with 74.9% of New York fully vaccinated, according to Becker Hospital Review.

However, mask mandates still apply to schools, and parents feel strongly about the fact that their children are masked in school while many prominent figures at public events like the Super Bowl were maskless.

“My little girl with a disability will be forcibly masked at school 8 hours tomorrow,” a New York mother of three tweeted. The user’s tweet included pictures of a maskless Ellen DeGeneres, Jennifer Lopez, Ben Affleck, Christina Aguilera and Megan Thee Stallion.

These parents want their children to have a relatively normal educational upbringing, and they’re not wrong for this desire.

Children over the age of five have been able to receive the Pfizer vaccine since early Nov. 2021, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Children 12 years and older are eligible to receive their booster, giving parents a wide range of options to ensure the safety of their children.

Nonetheless, some parents strongly believe their kids are safer wearing a mask. Children come home to their grandparents and possibly other immunocompromised family members.

Wearing a mask isn’t something to take personally. Wearing a mask is simply complying with protocols during a public health crisis.

Parents who want to mask their children before school should respect the opinions of parents who don’t, and vice versa.

Hochul announced on that lifting the mask mandate in schools is “a very strong possibility,” according to non-profit news organization Chalkbeat.

While parents hope their children be free of masks in school, the future remains uncertain as the rate of new COVID-19 infections determines the final say.

As of Feb. 13, there were a total of 93 reported COVID-19 cases, according to the New York City Department of Education.

A child’s youth is a crucial aspect of their lives. Individuals who grew up in a world where a pandemic didn’t dismantle social normalcy cannot relate to young children’s experiences today.

March is around the corner, and Hochul will decide on the mask mandate for schools. However, those caught in the middle of this mess are children and teenagers, which is unfair.