I am a French citizen teaching at an International Bilingual School in the U.S.A. (I’ll keep my identity and location confidential to not put my job in jeopardy.) I’m writing today because the overreaction among a group of parents regarding students being required to wear face masks is something I never would have imagined from Americans. I’m disillusioned. Here’s a little background:
Last week we had what you call a “town hall.” About 20% of the parents came without masks. They argued it’s their constitutional right to potentially infect the rest of us with the Covid virus. They didn’t say it quite like that, but that’s the takeaway. One parent said something about God protecting their child. The mask-wearing group tried to stress civic responsibility, children’s’ safety and respect. A few angry parents shouted them down. It was like they literally and figuratively removed their masks. It was ugly.
This degree of a sense of entitlement, lack of empathy and responsibility is something I haven’t seen before in America. I don’t understand why putting a piece of cloth over the mouth to help stop the spread of a deadly disease is too much to ask. You would think parents were being asked to sacrifice their first-born, which in the end they may be doing by denying them masks. The U.S. Constitution grants its citizens rights, but using those rights in a way that could cause the death of other citizens is inconsistent with what I know of America.
I would like to ask how teachers feel about mask requirements and what the situation is at schools that have opened during the pandemic? Are students and parents wearing masks, social distancing and doing their part to help keep everyone safe, in and out of school? Or is the personal freedom group endangering the school community and the community at large?
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