Letter: Masks at School

In the 1980s, when I was a second-grader in Rhinebeck, I was struck with chickenpox. I loved second grade and hated the two weeks I spent at home in bed. When finally cleared by my doctor, I settled happily back at my desk, but not for long. About 15 minutes later, the nurse appeared: I was being sent back home.

I later learned that a girl in my class was battling leukemia, which made my recent chicken pox dangerous for her. To protect the life of an 8-year-old girl who was fighting for her life, my school sent me home for another week to heal completely. Sometimes we sacrifice our comfort and our happiness for the sake of others.

The girl is still alive; she beat the cancer and has a family of her own. Our children are vaccinated against chickenpox. But somehow our caring society has not survived. This is evident in the local anti-mask movement — those who want the mandate lifted for our unvaccinated children (Mask Confusion, June 11). We were discouraged when, with only a few weeks left in the school year, Haldane opted to lift the requirement outdoors — although the state did not require this, saying only that it was up to the district — and worried the superintendent had acquiesced to the vocal anti-mask sentiment.

After kids stopped wearing masks, the elementary school had to tell them they could no longer play Jackpot during recess, a game that requires close contact. Nonetheless, three days after the school’s lifting of the mask mandate, and his continued wearing of a mask everywhere, my son came home with a cold, reviving our concerns. The variants seem to be hitting kids hard.

I don’t know how to explain the callousness of people calling for the lifting of the indoor mask mandate to my own third-grader, who has been so carefully following the rules. Even at age 9, and even in the heat, he understands and accepts his responsibility to protect others.

Eliza Matthews, Cold Spring

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