My family took a lot of road trips when I was little. My memories of those trips involve a lot of singalongs, getting passed from one lap to another and curling up on a blanket in the way back when I got tired.

Brunswick resident Heather D. Martin wants to know what’s on your mind; email her at [email protected]

There was no car seat. Heck, there were no seat belts.

My parents were not bad parents or careless with their kids; it’s how it was. We didn’t know any better. No one had car seats. No one used seat belts.

And I was fine, I lived.

However, just because I made it doesn’t mean everyone did. In fact, lots didn’t, and at some point some clever people looked at the statistics and decided maybe safety ought to come into play. By the time my own kids were born, safety seats were the new normal.

I can’t imagine anyone today simply letting their kid climb into the back while driving – let alone placing an infant on the seat beside them unrestrained. We know better.

This is exactly how I feel about masks in public schools when kids go back this fall.

We are in the middle of a global pandemic. A really lethal one. I don’t think anyone has actually forgotten this, but the conversations happening around masking make me wonder.

So, let’s just quickly revisit. COVID-19 has, as of this writing, killed 4.3 million people worldwide; 617, 0000 of them in the U.S. I should note, those are the reported deaths attributed to this disease. Some experts put the actual number at double that.

We know the best ways to avoid catching this virus are: get vaccinated, maintain distance from others and wear a mask. I’m doing all three. Our kids, however, are up against it.

Schools don’t have enough room to allow for proper distance with everybody back in person. What’s more, the majority of school-age kids are not yet old enough to be given the vaccine. That’s the top two precautions off the table.

That leaves masks.

When this pandemic first began way back in early 2020, we didn’t know better.

Today, thanks to test after test after test, we do.

Some pretty clever people have looked at the statistics and concluded that, yes, masks do help keep us safe.

So why is this even up for debate? Masks are literally the only protection against this deadly virus that we can offer our kids.

Is it weird to wear one all day? Sure, a little. But you get used to it.

Can you breathe in it? Yes, you can. Doctors perform surgery in them, sometimes double masked. Olympic runner Galen Rupp has run in a mask for years due to allergies, and he wins medals.

Does it inhibit learning and social connection? Well, there is some thinking out there that being able to see another person’s mouth forming words is helpful, I give you that, but none of the data seems really conclusive – and even if it was, the setback is nothing compared to contracting the coronavirus.

More than anything, we know that our children’s ability to learn is closely linked to their sense of safety. Let us, therefore, show our kids that the grownups are taking their safety seriously. Send our kids to school masked up.

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