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When Can We Stop Wearing Face Masks?

Starting with schools.

I just finished sitting in a laundromat for an hour. Sitting there with my mask on was not my favorite thing to do. Tomorrow I’ll spend another two-plus hours on commuter trains going to and coming home from work — while wearing a mask.

Then there are the school kids, spending six hours in school while wearing a mask. Eventually the wearing of masks will be discontinued, but when will that happen?

I encourage you to read this piece from the New York Times in full, but here are a few key takeaways:

• “Set a date: Some experts suggested beginning to lift mask mandates after children have time to get both doses of Pfizer’s vaccine. (That’s about eight weeks after authorization.) Marr suggested waiting until after the holidays, when kids could pick up other bugs. Others proposed tracking variants before laying out a timeline.

• “Flexibility: Some experts espoused data-driven mask policies based on the level of virus spread in communities. Nevada has both an off-ramp and an on-ramp for school masking, contingent on surges and case numbers.

• “A measure of certainty: Concrete benchmarks are necessary to ground a community after a shaky year. Parents are suffering from decision fatigue, and a promise of certainty could make the present feel less stressful.

“In general, though, experts were unanimous in urging parents to vaccinate their children.

“‘Every person I spoke to said children 5 and up should get the vaccine,’ Jessica wrote. ‘Maybe the carrot of mask-free schools will inspire some more hesitant families to get their children vaccinated.’”
Eric Holdeman is a contributing writer for Emergency Management magazine and is the former director of the King County, Wash., Office of Emergency Management.
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