The Battle Over Masks: Can We Do This for Our Kids?



I snapped a picture of our school’s approved snack list last night while sitting in my son’s meet the teacher night. It struck me as one of those “moments.” Just that morning, one of my friends and I talked about how our public schools were largely peanut-free. We have an approved snack list. Children with known peanut allergies are seated at special tables in elementary schools and can pick a friend to sit with them who is buying from the peanut-free lunch choices our school provides. The approved allergy snack list is short. It’s name-brand specific. Collectively, parents abide by that list to help protect the students in our community who may be navigating school with a life-threatening peanut allergy. As parents and guardians, we protect someone’s child, perhaps a child we don’t know. I would guess some families don’t even know a kid with a peanut allergy. So what makes masks so different?

It made me realize that I have NEVER seen a social media post protesting the allergy-friendly list. I have NEVER heard of a school board meeting turn south because of the “rights” of a child to bring peanut butter crackers for a classroom snack. I have NEVER seen someone theorize that our schools were in cahoots with Pepperidge Farms as they are the only brand of Goldfish we can pack. 

Why are we fighting a mask?

My friend and I wondered why so many parents are vehemently against protecting a child in our school who may be immunocompromised. Doing what we can to protect a child in our school who may be at greater risk for contracting covid. Why do we unquestioningly buy off the peanut-free allergy list but raise hell when the idea of a mask mandate for students is mentioned. Children are far more resilient than we give them credit. The idea of “masks make my kids sick” is not founded in any credible science or research. I personally know of pediatric transplant patients who have worn a mask out in public (school included!) every single day of their life. Not for a year or two. But a decade. Every day. If they can do it, your kid can too.

As a nurse, my choice is to vaccinate my kids. But I can see and understand vaccine hesitancy parents have for their children. Maybe I don’t agree with it, but I understand it. But the opposition to masks is a different story. As one of our pediatricians replied in a note last week to a parent asking for a “mask exemption,” kids do well with masks. It’s usually the parents or guardians who have a problem.

The number of kids contracting Covid will rise. Kids will continue to get sick. Some of these kids will have to be hospitalized. Some children will have to be intubated and vented, and, god forbid, some will die.

The idea of that sickens me.

So why can’t all of the adults in the room decide we will protect these children as we do with all of the kids with life-threatening peanut allergies. Why can’t we decide that we will support masks in our schools? Can we do this for our kids? Because they deserve it.


  1. I recently read an IG post from an anti masking mom who basically argued that it is not her nor anyone else’s responsibility to protect anyone else’s child but theirs whether that be to mask up or not. I have a hard time grappling with that kind of mentality with the same mothers touting the whole “it takes a village” mentality. Why is this an exception? It frustrates me to no end the hypocrisy, cherry picking and asterisks.

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