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The Heat Is On, The Mask Should Be Off

It was bound to happen. It happens every year in New England. I’m honestly shocked it took this long to be honest.

Yesterday, it was 92 degrees outside where I was yesterday. Not sure about anyone else’s feelings, but that is pretty damn hot.

For those who don’t know, when I’m not writing blogs, I am a Physical Education teacher. This year has been a challenging year for several reasons, the biggest being the fact that I had no gym space. Which means that I have been outside all year. Whether that be in the rain, wind, snow, sleet or whatever else the month of February wanted to throw at me. This also means that yesterday, I was outside. All day.

Don’t get me wrong. I’d rather be outside in hot or cold weather than be remote. If me being uncomfortable is the only thing that stands between kids getting a chance for some physical activity, then that’s what is going to happen.

That brings me to the real point here. Masks have become a part of life in schools in the past year. Honestly, when it was 13 degrees out, I actually enjoyed the mask. It kept my face relatively warm. But yesterday was a different story.

I know for a fact that wearing a mask during physical activity is not good for you. Honestly, it is actually dangerous. Unfortunately, wearing a mask at all times on school grounds is the school’s policy. Call me a hypocrite if you must, but I needed to follow the rules or I wouldn’t have a job, and the kids wouldn’t get PE class. I don’t like it, but I go along with it.

Yesterday was the final straw for me. I get the fact that I had to be outside in the heat all day. I’m cool with it. It was going to be miserable, but I’d get through it. When my first class began, I made a point to say that we would be taking frequent breaks for water and shade. I also made the internal decision that if kids moved their masks off, that would be fine. The research all says Covid doesn’t spread outside anyway, so what’s the point.

As the day went on, it got hotter and hotter. Even for me, it became tough to breathe with the mask on outside. So, I more or less ditched it. It was hanging around my ears, but it was very rarely over my mouth and nose. I had the kids do the same, which they were very thankful for. Especially since they were all playing games and running around.

At some point in the afternoon, one of the other teachers flagged me down to speak to her for a moment. As I walked over, the teacher had the mask off. As I approached, I noticed she had quite a serious look on her face. Apparently, one of her students had come in and told her that I told the class to take their masks off during PE and I wasn’t correcting those who took them off. First things first, I never instructed the kids to take their masks off. I told them that if they wanted to, they could.

As I started to get a little defensive, the teacher assured me that she was on my side with this one. Saying that it was way too hot to force kids to wear masks outside. She continued to say that the student threatened to tell the administration and their parents. Thankfully, the teacher told the administration and they fully backed my decision. It is refreshing to hear that in education.

What really disturbs me is the fact that this student’s parents had them so scared to take the mask off that they would try to get a teacher who has their best interests in mind in trouble. I don’t blame the kid. Not their fault at all. The real blame here lies directly on the shoulders of the media and the parents.

For over a year and a half, the media has been screaming about the virus. Saying that if you don’t wear a mask you are going to die, or kill your friends and family. We’ve been told to shelter in place and order take out, rather than to get outside and exercise (which actually protects you from the virus).

Thankfully, most adults are becoming wise to the nonsense that is being spewed across the airwaves. But there are still those who still believe the fear mongering. Unfortunately, if those people have children, that fear is put on them. No kid should have to worry about dying from a virus that statistically barely harms them while playing four square in PE class.

It is my job to make sure kids get at least a little bit of physical activity in their day. It is also my duty to make sure they do so safely. That being said, I refuse to make a kid wear a mask in stifling heat like we had yesterday. Now, I’m not just a complainer. After this discussion, I asked to be a part of the Health and Safety Committee at my school. I will be sure to make this a priority.

I am 100% sure when I get to school on Tuesday morning, I will have at least one nasty ramil from a parent. That’s fine. I’ll give it a read, because everyone needs a good laugh in the morning. Of course, I won’t respond to it. That is an easy way to get yourself into trouble. What I would like to say to those who email me, I’ll say here. If they have a real problem with it, I challenge them to come in and I’ll teach them PE for 45 minutes in 90 degree heat. Then we will see if they feel the same way.

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