Covid Reality

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The Atlantic: Parents Are Losing Their Minds Over Masks in Schools

Original article: Parents Are Losing Their Minds Over Masks in Schools

Public-school students in her Florida county, Hillsborough, are technically required to wear masks to school. But in an attempt to please everyone, parents may opt their kids out of mask wearing by signing a form. Masks also remain optional for teachers. According to Carothers, some of the parents in her kids’ classes have signed the mask waiver, and their kids roam around blissfully mask-free.

In a place with the Delta variant ripping through their community, the people caring for their youth aren’t required to set a good example. Either by being vaccinated, or wearing a mask.

That’s concerning, because only about half the people who are eligible for vaccines in the county are fully vaccinated, and COVID-19 is spreading widely in Florida.

With deadly outcomes.

So far, more than 500 students in the district have tested positive for COVID-19 this month. Nearly 5,600 students in the district, the seventh largest in the nation, were in isolation or quarantine as of Monday

And the parents are being called child abusers, for looking after their kids, after having recently suffered through COVID-19.

Carothers considered homeschooling, but neither she nor her husband can quit their jobs. And she feels that her kids need the socializing thrum of public school. So instead, the kids don’t go to restaurants. They don’t go to movie theaters. They wear masks in public, even though people have yelled at Carothers for being a “child abuser” as a result. On school days, as she sends her twins off to a building filled with other humans and their mucous membranes, she has tried to push past her own memories of getting COVID-19 in December.

It’s explained by the human reliance on intuition, instead of data.

“Human perception dictates fears, not rationality,” says Alan Kazdin, a child psychologist at Yale. “Our fears do not rely on the data. They rely on our perception of danger, our perception of the consequences.” This is why people fear shark attacks more than car accidents.


Kazdin, the psychologist, says anti-maskers are exhibiting “reactance,” an irrationally defiant response to being told what to do.

Those two factors working together present a deadly combination, but maybe there’s a way to use the tribe mentality against itself?

In the absence of mask mandates, Kazdin recommends another tool of psychology that might help ease these tensions. Schools could try telling students that although masks are not required, the majority of students will be wearing them. Facts, reason, and rules aren’t very persuasive, he says, but social norms are. Teens know it as one of the most powerful forces in the world: peer pressure.

Share the science. Set a good example, hopefully safety will prevail.