“I see these people just not wearing a mask, or wearing one pulled down, like, under their chin,” said Swan, “and my brain just immediately goes, ‘That person does not share the same ideals as me. We won’t get along.’ ” She added: “They may not be a bad person. They may just be thinking the same things as their parents.”
Youngkin issued his mask-optional order, which aims to give Virginia parents choice over masking in both public and private schools, on his first day in office. A fierce fight ensued: Seventy of 131 Virginia school districts refused to comply and kept their mask requirements, according to a Washington Post analysis, and parents and school officials filed a flurry of lawsuits for and against the order. This week, the Virginia General Assembly narrowly passed – along largely partisan lines – a law that requires all schools to go mask-optional on March 1, ensuring every one of Virginia’s more than 1.8 million public and private schoolchildren will face masking decisions and tensions at school in days to come.
As the adults battle over the merits of masking, Virginia students have been forced to navigate the real-life fallout.
Some Virginia students were thrilled to remove their masks – but their elation quickly soured when administrators in districts that still required masking sent unmasked children into isolated rooms or back to their homes. Other students, especially those with health conditions, were horrified to find themselves seated next to maskless peers, unable to do anything except ask to change seats. All too often, students said, their teachers deny that request, citing instructions from higher-ups not to segregate students by mask status.
There’s a lot to unpack in this short excerpt. First, notice how the student is using mask wearing as a proxy for judging someone’s values. We have done that. Instead of teaching kids that everyone is different and can make choices that re right for them regarding their own health, we have taught them that compliance are the highest values. Mask compliance has long since ceased to be about healthcare and has become a symbol of subservience to the state.
Second, notice how willingly the teachers and administrators are willing to punish children for disagreeing with the staff member’s ideology or personal health choices. They have no qualms about torturing kids with isolation and shunning if they can use it to feed to the media for a story like this. Kids are very impressionable and we are using powerful social motivators to teach them that they must surrender independent judgment and personal healthcare decisions to the authorities. Our schools are not teaching them how to think and make rational choices. Our schools are teaching them how to be subjects for the state.
Third, we have put so much fear into our kids that we have turned many of them into frightened flowers. They are so afraid of a virus that poses less threat to them than the flu that they are making irrational and unhealthy choices. We have poisoned our children with fear and done real damage to their mental and physical health.
The pandemic has ended, but the damage to our children will last for their whole lives.