As of July 12th, the CDC mask guidelines are as follows: those who are already fully vaccinated do not need to wear masks indoors. But some states have made a few alterations to the guidelines:
California - Masks are still fully required indoors whether vaccinated or not
New York - Under review
Missouri - Lifting all mask requirements
With the Delta variant making its way across the states, and with start of the next school year right around the corner, the mixed mask policies are causing some parents and kids concern about an increase in bullying. Some parents say they hope guidelines will help motivate more parents to vaccinate their kids. Others fear masking vs not masking will target students, and teachers won’t have the bandwidth to intervene.
Dr. Robert Keder, a pediatrician who specializes in developmental behavior at Connecticut Children's Medical Center, says “We see that adults are bullying each other over wearing masks or not," he says, so it’s even more likely to see this sort of behavior in kids. "We need to teach kids that wearing a mask, even if you choose to but don't 'have to,' is OK," he says. "People might be doing it for reasons that aren't obvious — they haven't been vaccinated, they're immunocompromised or they have someone at home who is sick."
Before your child goes back to school this year, make sure to talk to them about their concerns and yours. Here are some bullying tips from StopBullying.Gov:
Kids who know what bullying is can better identify it. They can talk about bullying if it happens to them or others. Kids need to know ways to safely stand up to bullying and how to get help.
Encourage kids to speak to a trusted adult if they are bullied or see others being bullied. The adult can give comfort, support, and advice, even if they can’t solve the problem directly. Encourage your child to report bullying if it happens.
Talk about how to stand up to kids who bully. Give tips, like using humor and saying “stop” directly and confidently. Talk about what to do if those actions don’t work, like walking away
Talk about strategies for staying safe, such as staying near adults or groups of other kids.
Urge them to help kids who are bullied by showing kindness or getting help.
There are things your kids can do if they are being bullied:
Look at the kid bullying you and tell him or her to stop in a calm, clear voice. You can also try to laugh it off. This works best if joking is easy for you. It could catch the kid bullying you off guard.
If speaking up seems too hard or not safe, walk away and stay away. Don’t fight back. Find an adult to stop the bullying on the spot.
For more tips and/or to learn about cyberbullying, visit: https://www.bullying.gov.
If you and your kids would like to make your own masks for back to school, check out these great tutorials by Crafty Daily! They’re super fun to do and you can use your favorite fabrics or t-shirt pieces to make them more unique:
Basic tutorial: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uRfhuRNua_E
Tutorial with metal nose piece: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1_cBmLIeiaI
(Please note that these are not medical-grade masks but can be altered to be safer by adding a disposable mask or coffee filter underneath)