Chances are pretty good that you, dear reader, are slowly – or maybe quickly – “moving on” from the pandemic as the state’s COVID-19 numbers keep improving.
Unless, that is, you live with a rug rat or two.
The lack of a vaccine for under-5-year-olds has parents and caregivers of small children in a sort of limbo as the adult world opens up in ways that their child’s world can’t. Consider the Manseau home in Concord.
“My son has been amazingly good at wearing a mask. He doesn’t know why but sees everybody else doing it,” said Shannon Manseau regarding 3 1/2-year-old P.J. But that has started to change: “Not as many people are wearing masks any more, including his mom, so he doesn’t think he needs it anymore.”
Manseau is a teacher in Manchester. Until late last month she was required to wear a mask all day in school: “The first day I didn’t have to wear it, I felt like I was breaking the law,” she semi-joked. Her son’s day care has just stopped requiring parents to wear a mask during drop-off.
She admits that in recent weeks she has started getting “lax” about wearing a mask and social distancing in public – in stores “I would bring my mask but if it wasn’t very busy I wasn’t wearing it” – as evidence grows that less virus is in circulation.
That evidence, combined with indications that COVID-19 doesn’t usually have serious effects on little kids, means P.J. is being allowed to play and interact with others more and more. Manseau says he feels that since she and husband Phil are vaccinated and boosted to the max and none of them has gotten COVID-19, “I’m under the impression that we’ve made it this far, we’re OK.”
She adds that P.J. will get a vaccine as soon as one is available for his age group, and she’ll feel much better after that.
The situation is more complicated for immunocompromised people who can’t get vaccinated and are more likely to get seriously ill if infected. It’s possible that they may never get back to pre-pandemic life: If you see somebody wearing a mask in public, that may well be the reason, so give them room and respect.
One other point missed by non-parents like me: Manseau is grateful that her day care hasn’t had to close due to COVID-19, unlike a neighbor whose daycare has closed several times from infection among kids or staff. It’s an example of the whiplash that parents have been dealing with for two years as pandemic waxed and waned and changing regulations made things open or close in almost fractal patterns.