Mask optional.

Our school district has chosen to make masks optional starting next week.  I have the same hesitations about this as I did before.  Approximately one in five people live in poverty in our county.  The loss of wages due to a child sick from covid could be the difference between being able to buy food, pay the heating bill, and not be late on rent.  This pandemic was, is, and will continue to be an example of how our society tends to benefit those who already have and leaves those without to fret more.  Masks help prevent the spread of illness.  Not requiring them puts children and the adults in their lives at risk.  I know that people who do not want mask requirements say that it’s not an issue, because you still have the right to wear a mask if you want to.  The risk of exposure increases when anyone around you is not also wearing a mask.  Plus, the Omicron variant moves in ways that previous strains didn’t and cloth masks are no longer considered as effective as surgical masks.  Surgical masks are even inferior to KN95 masks.  The best masks for preventing exposure are also the most expensive.  Those who likely have paid time off and insurance, salaried income that can withstand a 10 day quarantine, also probably have the financial freedom to pay for the most effective masks.  Those who are able to buy protection and more assurance of safety can, and those who can’t are subject to the whims of state and city jurisdiction.  We’re failing to protect our most vulnerable and convincing ourselves we aren’t somehow responsible.

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