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Kids are Better at Wearing Masks Don’t @ Me

In a shocking development, kids are better at being decent humans

Image: Sankelle

Let me tell you about my day job.

I am a kindergarten para. Basically, I blend into the background of the classroom, making sure that the students aren’t eating glue or whatever. I show them how to use scissors. For some reason, I have multiple injuries on my hands from the stapler snapping back at me. I cut out a lot of lamination (which is actually a most delightful task). 

The large, urban district I work for, in response to the pandemic, has adopted a 3/2 model. This means that students with the last names A through K come to school on Monday and Tuesday, and students with last names that start with L through Z come to school on Thursday and Friday. They trade off Wednesdays. Everyone must wear a mask.

Principals of individual schools have been given autonomy in how to implement the new rules. In the school I work for, we have silent lunch with only three to a table – essentially, no talking while the mask is off.

One might think that it would be difficult to get a kindergartner to follow all of these strange new rules.

But it hasn’t. The kids have been better than anyone could have ever dreamed. Half of them don’t even take their masks off during recess. Speaking of recess, our principal decided that they wouldn’t be allowed to use the equipment, which makes sense – there is no practical way for us to sanitize it between classes of students. And, while the kids were disappointed, they were also fine – they simply adapted their play habits. 

Kids have been absolutely wonderful. 

Let me tell you about my night job.

My night job is as a pharmacy tech in a regional grocery store chain. Corporate has never mandated masks for customers (though they have for employees), though in the city I live in there is a completely toothless mandate to wear one. But that doesn’t stop the Kathys and Rons of the world from waltzing in, their masks hanging below their nose, and making unreasonable demands. 

Once, I asked a woman to put her mask over her nose while she spoke to me. She snapped at me, saying that she can’t breathe with it on and it makes her sick (by the way, the ADA doesn’t allow you to do whatever you want. It mandates, in this case, that businesses provide reasonable accommodation – and we have a drive-through that we don’t even make people have a car to use).

Look. I understand that wearing a mask is inconvenient, and uncomfortable, and I know we all would rather not do it. But we are living in the midst of a (hopefully) once-in-a-lifetime pandemic. We could rave against it – yelling at First Nations teenagers, for example, or staging a “maskless flash mob“. Or, we could just suck it up and do it, because we are adults. 

So take a lesson from my kindergartners. 

Shut the fuck up and put on your mask. 


Tom McGovern



Written by Meg Fey

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