Students Were Required to Wear Masks All Day at School

Three young students wearing face masks at school
Artwork by Anthony Faust
Three young students wearing face masks at school

Masks are the absolute worst. Nobody likes wearing them. They are hot, and when you breathe, the condensation from your breath adds moisture to your lips and cheeks and chin. Even the best cloth masks rub on the bridge of your nose and back of your ears. The mask's biggest feature is their biggest weakness. They prevent your breath from properly escaping and instead circulate it right back to your nose. The freshest smelling mouth is gross in a mask.

Many fully grown adults got through the pandemic but were barely able to tolerate the masks in short bursts, such as going into a grocery store or in a doctor’s office. But what we asked our kids to do—wear a face mask for the entire day, from morning bus stop pickup to afternoon bus stop drop off—was kind of a low-key torture that was one of the worst parts of the pandemic. This might have been a case of the cure being worse than the disease.

As school districts across the country made the decision to require masks to keep their students and staff safe from the virus, some parents and teachers expressed worries that the use of masks had negative side effects on children. Some students had difficulty breathing. Younger kids had their language development hindered, unable to see a speaker’s mouth move combined with the muffling effect of a mask. Others reported concerns of stunted social and emotional growth, leading to feelings of anxiety.

One of the more confounding realities of the pandemic was that children were not nearly as susceptible to the virus as other age groups. Children ages 17 and under made up less than 10 percent of all cases in the United States and accounted for only .13% of the deaths. However, they were inordinately affected the most, forced to wear a mask for at least seven hours a day with very few breaks. It seemed like a bad concept to some, except the policymakers.

The argument was that even if the kids weren’t likely to get seriously sick themselves, they could still transmit the disease to someone else back at their home. For many, that argument really didn’t hold water, and certainly didn’t justify the irreparable damage that masks caused to our children. We definitely know it affected them, but we may not completely realize the full effect it had for some time.

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Picture of author Anthony Faust

About the Author

My life as a husband and father transformed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Sent home from work in March 2020, I've yet to return to the office. Adapting to the new pandemic world proved challenging for us all.

However, we managed to find silver linings. Drive-by birthdays brought joy to my kids' friends. I'll never forget stumbling upon a heartfelt hand-painted rock during my jog, reminding us that we're all in this together. Regular Zoom happy hours with close friends created cherished memories.

While quality time with my family was a blessing, we also faced hurdles. Assisting my youngest daughter with frustrating math homework on a poorly designed iPad app tested our patience. Both girls struggled with wearing masks during sports and school.

Sadly, witnessing COVID-19 being politicized and witnessing the closure of small businesses while the wealthy thrived was disheartening.

I wrote this book to document our experiences, learning from them and striving for better decisions in the future. Join me on this rewarding journey of resilience and growth.

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