After 30 months of horrendously brutalizing our city’s children about their susceptibility to COVID-19, the arts community inexplicably won’t stop. While city and state-enforced ordinances have faded into the annals of history, child mask and vaccine mandates live on in many museums, theaters and other cultural venues.
Parents like me often find out about these guidelines through a class visit note at school, which we have little access to. First, the good news: Your child is getting a great opportunity to see a show at Alvin Ailey or the New Victory Theater — wow! Oh, but by the way, he is required to “wear a mask”. Often, wearing a mask is done as a “disrespectful” act by children.
Of course, these cultural institutions have parents. Because while New York City public school children ages 5 and older were exempted from masks on March 7 (the mayor’s baby mask mandate for ages 2-4 didn’t expire until June 13), private fiefdoms that are partially funded by the state can continue to issue whatever mandates they want. the ineffective mitigation they choose has no consequences or motivation to restore normality to child visitors.
When it comes to keeping up with the COVID hysteria, museums are as retrograde as children’s theater. For example, MoMath still requires masks. The Jewish Museum has waived the mask mandate, but requires visiting school groups to wear veils. El Museo del Barrio continues to make masks for everyone. Whitney needs masks in the kids-only outdoor studio (!).
What does it take for art to follow science? Currently, states such as Florida and many European countries do not recommend the vaccine to healthy children. However, Alvin Ailey dances require boosters for young children who register.
Europe has never masked children under the age of 6 and rarely masks children under the age of 12. Before the pandemic, Americans often praised European models of child protection. But when it comes to COVID, Europe doesn’t seem to exist.
Also, the mainstream fails to recognize that long-term veiling is harmful to children and the adults around them. Of course, even mask-obsessed parents need to understand that there is a real cost to covering their children’s faces.
A British survey published a few days ago found that 75% of teachers believe that masks muffle sound, make it difficult to interact with children with special needs and prevent quiet children from participating in class. Masks are especially difficult for hearing-impaired children who need to read lips and children with special needs who struggle to pick up on non-verbal cues. The children said that they were worried about wearing masks.
Who is responsible for this anti-kid, anti-science predatory policy that exploits a captive audience during what should be a wonderful and sublime experience?
A year ago, despite authorizing emergency use of the pediatric vaccine, Broadway required children under 12 to wear a mask and show a negative COVID test to participate. The Metropolitan Opera and Carnegie Hall banned them altogether, relegating children to true viral-vector status. Young musicians and opera lovers missed out on two priceless years of live performance while their peers in other states were living their best lives.
When I phoned Alvin Ailey to ask why kids were being forced to cover their faces during a school play that was supposed to be social, interactive and fun, the short answer was, “What’s the big deal, it’s just a mask!” Pressed on, explaining that masks do more harm than good, especially for children, I was told to leave my child at home and to skip the performance altogether if I didn’t comply. It also meant a day of missing class, but Ailey was undaunted.
It sickened me to the core. As a lifelong patron of the arts, I cannot fathom the logic and casual indifference in restoring children’s joy, wonder, and essential connection to art, something they need more than ever.
Children have been through a lot. When will the abuse stop?
Natalia Murakhver is the founder of Restore Childhood, a non-profit organization dedicated to ending the COVID mandates for children and restoring athletics, arts and academics across the United States. It produces “15 days. . .”, a documentary about castles.