Editorial: Masks up: We can get through this school year together

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In a few weeks, kids will be heading back to school for the first time in five months. Wednesday, Governor Kay Ivey addressed the state informing us that students and teachers from second grade through college will be required to wear a mask at school until Aug. 31. The comments on social media from many parents in Cullman were anything but supportive. I read everything from, “This will be over in November” to, “Kids will never wear masks” to, “Are they going to check oxygen levels?”

Our country is facing a lethal pandemic. It is not a hoax and as of Thursday, 11 residents of Cullman County have passed away. Statewide, 1,516 families have lost loved ones. These are real people who have died while doctors and scientists work tirelessly to combat the virus. Many more people are sick and on ventilators and even those who are considered to be “recovered” report having long-term effects.

Parents have known since early July that schools would be offering both traditional and virtual school this fall. In a poll conducted on Facebook by The Tribune, 75% of those who participated said they would choose traditional school. For kids to be able to attend traditional classes, is it really a surprise that our schools would need to make adjustments in order for this to happen and that masks would be one of those adjustments?

Parents who wanted traditional school, and in some cases, demanded it are among those who are now crying foul over Ivey’s mask mandate. This virus is an inconvenience to everybody. Masks are not the preferred accessory by most people; however, if that is what is recommended to give you the best chance of your child not catching COVID-19 while allowing him/her the benefits of traditional learning, I think it’s a no-brainer.

All the complaining and ranting by adults about kids being required to wear masks? Well, kids emulate the adults in their lives. If their parents have no respect for the rules, neither will the kids. If the parents continually say masks are stupid, so will their kids when the teacher asks them to put on the masks. I feel for our teachers as they go back to the classroom with kids who have heard nothing but dismissal of the virus and the recommended precautions.

The “kids will never wear masks” complaint, well, they will if they are encouraged and taught at home and at school that it will protect them. They will when there is a united front from the adults in their lives. They will when adults remember the importance of kids following rules and not suggesting to them that they are the exceptions to the rules.

Wearing masks is just one of the many changes facing our children as they go back to school. Things will be different, but they don’t have to be made more difficult and confusing by parents feeding them conflicting instruction. Cullman County and Cullman City have some of the best teachers in the country, but they will need your help. With the support from parents and the community, they might all make it through this school year with healthy, happy children and their sanity.

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Christy Perry

christy@cullmantribune.com