"She went to school and was one of just a few kids in her class wearing a mask, which made her ask why she had to. My answer was because we want to take care of other people."
As schools all across the U.S. begin the 2021-22 school year, wearing masks in schools is one of the most important topics right now. Without a federal or state-level mask mandate in place, many schools are leaving the issue of mask-wearing up to the parents, which leaves unvaccinated children even more vulnerable to COVID. One dad is going viral for giving an emotional, passionate speech to the school board of the district his 5-year-old daughter attends.
The dad, Justin Kanew, began by explaining that his daughter just started kindergarten last week, and she wears a mask despite many parents in the district protesting masks in schools.
"She went to school and was one of just a few kids in her class wearing a mask, which made her ask why she had to. My answer was because we want to take care of other people," Kanew says in the video, which has now been viewed more than 1 million times on Twitter.
"She's 5 years old but she understood that concept, and it's disappointing that more adults around here can't seem to grasp it."
🔥WATCH: “CRT is not in our schools, you didn’t know what it was 6 months ago… my 5yo gets that we mask up for other… https://t.co/lC51TU6IjP— The Tennessee Holler (@The Tennessee Holler)1629214735.0
Per The Salt Lake Tribune, some anti-mask people have cited religious reasons for needing an exemption from wearing a mask, the reason being that "covering one's face dishonors God."
Per Kanew, that reason isn't actually cited in religious texts—specifically the Christian Bible.
"I asked a pastor friend of mine and he was very clear that there was no actual biblical justification for using the Bible to get out of a mask mandate passed by a majority of this elected board," he said. "But thousands are doing it anyway, calling it a religious exemption, which is frankly just sad. Avoiding masks is not in the Bible, but taking care of others is.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the best way to ensure in-person learning isn't interrupted is for schools to mitigate the spread of the virus as much as possible—mask-wearing being the most important way to accomplish that.
With the school year already underway in most Southern states, thousands of students are already quarantined at home due to COVID exposure and spread amid the highly contagious delta variant. Over 5,000 students in Florida will be quarantined until Aug. 31, and over 20,000 students in Mississippi are officially quarantined now, too.
As the mother of a soon-to-be kindergartener myself (her school is also leaving masks "optional" and she will undoubtedly be in the minority while wearing one), Kanew's vulnerability mirrors my own. I'm sure many parents of children under 12, who are not yet eligible for the vaccine, feel similarly. If the government won't advocate for our children, then we have to.