On masking up

Some good news: the mask panic attacks, after four days at school where I had to have one on for hours, appear to be subsiding. I have ended up landing on this one as my preferred mask, and the only complaint I have about it is that it rides up on my eyes a little more than I’d like it to, so I’m probably touching it and adjusting it more than I would like to.

I’ve been thinking more lately about what it’s going to mean to be “done” with Covid. It’s been made pretty clear that there’s a certain subset of the population who are going to have to be dragged kicking and screaming into vaccination, and to the best of my knowledge there is as of yet no shot that has been approved for use with middle school kids. So masking up at school is likely to remain a thing for a fair bit of time longer than masking up in general is going to be, especially since I live in a red state.

Thing is, it’s not like the masks are doing my kids any good, because as I suspected they cannot be convinced to wear them properly. Four days of in-person instruction in, I have reminded kids to cover their noses or their mouths with their masks approximately 123,425,208 times. And I’m probably still not doing it as often as I should, because there is literally someone without their mask on properly in my classroom 100% of the time, even with our current seriously-reduced number of students. I think I’ve been pretty consistent about this from the beginning: I hate wearing a mask, and wearing a mask genuinely fucks with me, but I’m going to do it anyway for as long as it’s necessary to do it. But hell if it’s not difficult to conclude that it’s safest for me to keep wearing one at work when I’m fully vaccinated and the kids around me are wearing theirs in a way that is literally not doing any good at all.

In general, I’m trying to be attentive to how much of my current behavior is reasonable and how much of it is basically quarantine-driven paranoia and, frankly, claustrophobia. I think it’s reasonable at this point to say that if you’re outside, unless you’re having a conversation in close quarters, you’re probably all good, and even in the building I tend to not put my mask on until I actually see another human being– if I can make it from my car to my classroom without wearing it, and frequently I can, I don’t put it on. But how long is it going to be until I feel okay going into a restaurant again? Like, I don’t even really have a guideline for what might make me decide “okay, this is all right now.” I got invited out for a drink with a couple of other teachers after work on Friday and turned it down. I’ve turned down multiple other such invitations over the course of the year. And I don’t even know what the plan is for when I might decide that sort of thing is okay again.

Actually, I do know one thing that would help: I don’t think there’s a solid consensus yet on whether vaccinated people can spread the virus easily. I know I’m not immune to catching Covid, it’s mostly just that if I do get it it is much, much more likely to be a minor case. But that doesn’t mean I can’t spread it to my father-in-law if I end up asymptomatic, and I’d prefer not to spread it to any strangers, either. But, like, if I spend the next six or seven weeks in a poorly-ventilated classroom and in near-constant contact with middle school kids who aren’t wearing their masks right (because, again, none of them wear their masks right) and don’t catch it, I feel like that’s pretty good evidence that I can at least, like, go to the store without having to wear one. Sitting in a restaurant? I dunno. Going into the gas station to buy a candy bar and pay for my gas and leave? When there’s plexiglass between me and the dude behind the counter? Is that okay?

I dunno. I’m kind of talking in circles about that, but that’s because I’m thinking in circles about it too. I need the people who are making this a political issue to walk into the ocean so that the rest of us can come up with a reasonable set of standards for when we let our guard down a little bit, and if they’re not going to walk into the ocean, the least we should be doing is employing government snipers with dart guns to vaccinate these idiots so they can stop fucking things up for the rest of us.

Biden should put that in the jobs plan, as a matter of fact.

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Luther M. Siler

The author of SKYLIGHTS, THE BENEVOLENCE ARCHIVES and several other books.

2 thoughts on “On masking up

  1. Regarding spreading COVID after you’ve been vaccinated: preliminary data indicates that vaccination also reduces asymptomatic infection, and vaccinated people who contracted COVID showed 4-fold less viral load than unvaccinated people with the disease (viral load is a potential indication of transmissibility). Source: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/science/science-briefs/fully-vaccinated-people.html

    So again, it’s all about reducing risk. Nothing is 100% guaranteed, but vaccination seems to help on all fronts. And thank you for wearing a mask, I know it is not pleasant for you.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I whine about it too much, frankly, but it was something I was concerned about going into school. The first couple of days were really rough on that front but Friday was a TON better. Thanks for the study.

      Liked by 1 person

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