When it comes to perceived freedoms, the battle has long been lost. When you go on an airplane, you must take your shoes off to go through security. When you enroll in a university or a public school there is a long list of vaccines you must have. Have you ever tried to get some chips and a soda from Sheetz without shoes or a shirt? I don’t think so.

There are some arguments that can be made that masks in schools are unfair. If you watched any football this weekend you probably saw thousands of people tightly packed into their seats cheering their butts off. Is that COVID safe? Probably not. Are you mandated to attend a Steelers game? No.

When it comes to schools, you have to realize that this is a public forum, a melting pot for all of the community to be educated together. If you don’t send your child to school, unless you have the time to homeschool, someone from the state will be following up with you. Public schools are a place where  the community is forced to interact and mingle, and for good reason. I am not going to preach to you and say that masks will be the saving grace in the battle against COVID-19. However, masks do help. Really though, whether you believe they help or hurt children, is besides the point.

Every morning when a child goes to school there are rules they must follow. On the bus they must stay in their seats. What happens if they don’t do that? There are consequences. Your child could be denied access to the bus, or not allowed on it the next day. Before they even get on the bus they are subject to policies that limit their freedoms. If a child does not want to wear a shirt, or wants to wear one that is revealing, they can’t go to school. I do not see an uproar from parents that a dress code restricts their child’s freedom, even though it can take away a way of expression.

I just do not understand why masks, one of many strategies used for keeping our community safe, have turned into such a hot button issue. One has to realize that this is not our school district trying to brainwash the kids. This is a mandate handed down by state institutions, who are trying to keep kids in school, period.

I have heard concerned parents worry about what will happen when the local schools shut down, leaving kids to learn from screens. These same parents are worried about what happens when they have to provide childcare while also working a job. If higher powers believe marks will help kids stay in school, why not just do it? Wearing masks has been shown to protect others if the mask wearer has contracted a virus. When did we as a society start caring more about the self and less about the community. For an area like Titusville, where neighbors go above and beyond to help neighbors, why not just comply?

Masks do not negatively impact a child’s health. The parents at the school board meeting on Monday who said that they can be hot and make you uncomfortable were the ones really telling the truth. Masks are inconvenient, they can be uncomfortable, but they are not dangerous. In a world where you are told to respect rules that are in place, this is just another rule that you should follow.

If you are one who believes there “isn’t enough research” or that the data isnt there, what are you really doing this for? Lets say that masks work—just bear with me— at best you are protecting the community. At worst, you are wearing a piece of fabric over your face. This pandemic has killed more than 600,000 Americans. After low numbers of contraction, the infection rate is again on the rise.

Some families take the virus seriously, while others downplay its importance. Since when did the skepticism of some mean more than the safety of all. Sure kids are young with good immune systems, but what happens when they give it to their grandmother, or their sister with an auto-immune disorder. In times like this it is better to be cautious, and follow rules. You have been following restrictive rules for decades, and it is more important to do so now than ever.

Remember, when it comes to getting dressed for school this year, make sure to wear your shoes, shirt, and mask, because that is the rule, and rules deserve to be followed.

Dvorkin is a staff reporter for The Titusville Herald. He grew up in Baltimore, Maryland, a place that has shaped his life. For college he left the east coast bubble to learn at the University of Missouri School of Journalism. His time in the midwest is time he will never forget. It was there that he was exposed to other points of view, and learned to love those who he may disagree with. Dvorkin is now living in Titusville, and is adjusting to small town life.

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