My daughter was 8 when she started to lose her hearing. We didn’t notice at first because she became so good at reading lips that it wasn’t until we took a family camping trip that I clued in. In the van while I drove, I realized that she couldn’t hear me because she didn’t have those visual cues to help her discern what I was saying. All she could see was the back of my seat. When schools reopen in September, if you require masks to be work by staff or students, you will essentially be asking her to spend the year staring at the back of that seat again. Even with the use of adaptive equipment such as an FM system, she can’t understand what is being said without reading lips.
I know this for sure because of the times I’ve spent in an audio booth with tears streaming down my face as the audiologist said “ice cream” with her mouth covered with a paper and my daughter repeated “baseball”. Watching your child struggle to understand is heartbreaking.
I can’t imagine being in your position and all of the factors that need to be weighed in order to consider when reopening schools safely, but I need to give my daughter a voice. I urge you to also consider those who are deaf or hard of hearing when you sit down to make your new policies.
I have other fears as well about schools reopening as well as do many parents such as kids under heightened stress not being able to learn effectively and I’m losing sleep thinking about all the what ifs.
- What if play and hands-on discovery are no longer part of the school day?
- What if students are required to wear masks and those with lung conditions can hardly breathe?
- What if the students with special needs – those on the autism spectrum or sensory processing disorder or attention deficit disorder or learning disabilities or anxiety fall further through the cracks as schools struggle to meet the physical, emotional and educational needs of even their “in-the-box” students?
- What will childhood look like if restrictions continue but also what cost in lives may there be if they don’t?
These are challenging times and I can’t imagine that creating new policies is simple, but please do not make a blanket policy for teachers to wear face masks. To do so would condemn my daughter and others like her to certain failure.