It’s Still a Little Weird in the Post-Mask World

My kids can tell you.

Will Leitch

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Monday morning marked a new phase in the pandemic, at least for my children: They didn’t have to wear masks to school.

Our public school district here in Athens, Georgia has required masks from the beginning of the pandemic. Well, that’s not exactly true: For a depressingly long period of time, they didn’t require masks in school because there was no school: The disaster that was virtual schooling lasted for far more weeks than it ever should have. But since they’ve been back in school full-time, all kids have been required to wear masks.

As a parent, I’ve been relieved by this, particularly because many of the communities surrounding Athens, more rural and suburban, never required masks for their students or their teachers. I wanted my kids in school, but I also wanted my community, and the teachers and staff at the school, as protected as they could be. Whatever it took to get those kids back in school, I was for it. If they’d issued Hazmat suits, my kids would have worn them.

But we are at a different stage of the pandemic now, and it makes sense for the mask mandates, in communities with low transmission rates (like Athens right now), to be dropped. If you want to wear a mask, you surely can: I’ve got a few instances where I’m wearing them myself. But it’s as safe as it has been since the beginning of the pandemic to be without. I’m glad my school district made that decision.

Still, though: These kids have been wearing masks for a long time. A period of awkward transition was inevitable. Which brings me to yesterday.

I walked my kids to school in the morning, my 10-year-old William and my seven-year-old Wynn. Wynn, the more brash and confident of the kids, has always hated wearing masks: He told me he’d burn them all right now if I let him. (I’m not going to.) But William was nervous. We stood outside the door to his school, and he was frozen. He had a mask in his pocket. But was he supposed to put it on? Not put it on? He couldn’t figure it out. He was stuck.

To be clear: He wasn’t nervous about getting Covid-19 by not wearing a mask. He was worried about what was socially acceptable. Would his friends be wearing a mask? Would they not be? Would he…

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Will Leitch

Author of six books, including “How Lucky” and "The Time Has Come." NYMag/MLB.. Founder, Deadspin. https://williamfleitch.substack.com