When it comes to the societal interest in protecting children, the legal precedent is clear: the rights of parents come second. parents to do have the freedom to determine their children’s health care and education, but these rights are not unlimited. As the Supreme Court said in Prince versus Massachusetts, Parents are not free to “martyr their children” by putting them in danger. Governments can and do limit parents’ discretion to protect the health, safety and wellbeing of children. An example is Requirements for child car seatsthat exist in all 50 states. Each state also has a law that empowers the government to intervene when parents abuse or neglect their children.
All 50 states also have the power to limit parents’ discretion to protect other children. For example, Schools and daycare are heavily governed by local, state, and federal laws to make sure they are safe. Children who go to school have to vaccinated in all 50 states. These Requirements have been upheld by numerous courts, including the Supreme Court. Schools also prohibit parents from sending sick children to school, and a Federal Court of Appeal that unvaccinated children could be excluded from school during a “vaccine-preventable disease outbreak”. Given this legal precedent, it is clear that schools and daycare centers can Mask requirement as a condition of participation.
Undoubtedly, there are times when public school policies are overused and parental rights violated. But that’s not one of them. Amid a global pandemic that has killed more than 4 million people, including over 600,000 Americans, a variety of public health measures are legally and ethically justified. Mask requirements for schools are one of the most helpful and least intrusive ways to protect children. They just require children wear a piece of cloth on your face.
Wearing a mask is very easy. It protects the child wearing the mask, it protects the child’s classmates and teachers, and it helps break the chain of infection that the SARS-CoV-2 virus is circulating in our communities. While vaccination is hands down the most effective way to prevent the spread of Covid, not everyone can or will get a vaccine. No vaccine is yet approved in the United States for children under the age of 12, and hesitation and resistance to vaccines in adults remains widespread. These delays in vaccinating everyone make it clear that we need to take other measures to protect children. Some schools have imposed testing and contact tracing, required social distancing, banned large gatherings, increased classroom ventilation, moved activities outside where possible, and continued personal hygiene practices – but many have not. However, aside from vaccination, wearing masks is still the best way to prevent virus transmission.
Masks in schools are an especially good idea considering how easy it is for most children to wear a mask. Kids already know superheroes who wear masks, including Batman and Batwoman, Spider-Man and Captain America. And many real children’s heroes, such as teachers and health care workers, routinely wear masks. In fact, millions of American children already wear masks to school every day without major complications.
As parents, we should not make our children the victims of a reckless and incorrect understanding of parental privilege. We should spend less time thinking about that right we claim for ourselves and more time to think about ours Responsibilities to protect our children.