“Mask-wearing = child abuse.” This false claim is making its rounds in our community as well as nationwide.

As a preschool educator in Rochester, I observed children wearing masks throughout the pandemic quite happily, in fact. Instead of a hindrance, their masks became a part of their outfit -- sporting a favorite animal, TV show character, or design. They did not prevent children from playing, singing, dancing, or talking with their friends and teachers.

If we did have trouble understanding a child’s developing language, we temporarily took off the mask. Likewise, if a child got hot from exercise, or simply needed a break, the mask was put away for a bit.

Children regularly showed an understanding of RPS rules (Be Safe, Be Respectful, and Be Responsible) without much explanation from us. Thanks to their excellent parents, students knew masks were to keep them and others safe; there were no “cool” or “dumb” masks; and the 4-year-olds kept track of their masks amazingly well!

If Americans really cared about our children, everybody who is eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine would have gotten it by now. In the U.S. alone, it is estimated that over 144,000 children lost primary or secondary caregivers (one or both parents and/or grandparents) so far. That’s real childhood trauma.

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C’mon people! Stop spouting outrageous drama and face the traumas unfolding daily. We need the grown-ups to Be Safe, Be Respectful, and Be Responsible.

Michelle L. Pearson, Rochester