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Parents Have New Headache as Masks in School Become Optional

  • NYC, Austin among districts leaving choice to families
  • Children may face peer pressure along with the virus itself
Students at an elementary school in San Ramon, California.
Students at an elementary school in San Ramon, California.

Photographer: Aric Crabb/MediaNews Group/East Bay Times/Getty Images

Updated on

Hundreds of U.S. school districts are shifting from stern mask mandates to softer mask-optional guidelines, giving parents and children final say in a fraught debate.

Some adults say the change is overdue, and that after years of pandemic angst, their kids yearn to see the faces of teachers and classmates. Others say mask choice opens a new arena for peer pressure and ridicule, a perennial issue, but one that’s newly serious with varying vaccination rates and shots out of reach for the youngest students.