The creative community stubbornly refuses to end the 30 months of harsh restrictions placed on the youth of our city because of unfounded concerns about their vulnerability to COVID-19. Children’s mask and vaccine regulations are still very much alive in many museums, theatres, and other cultural venues, even after they had faded from local and state enforced edicts.
When I, and other parents like me, find out about these requirements through a school message announcing a class trip, we have little choice but to comply. Let me start with the good news: your kid is getting a chance to see a concert at either the Alvin Ailey or New Victory Theaters, which is really fantastic! And by the way, they’ll have to wear masks. Often, parents will tell their kids that they had to wear masks “out of respect.”
Naturally, these cultural institutions have parents over a barrel. Even though children in New York City public schools aged 5 and up were released from wearing masks on March 7 (the mayor’s toddler mask mandate for ages 2 to 4 did not end until June 13), these partially publicly funded private fiefdoms can continue to mandate any ineffective mitigation they choose, with no consequences and no motivation to restore normalcy for child visitors.
Museums are as dated as children’s theatre when it comes to spreading the COVID scare. Even now, masks are necessary at the Museum of Mathematics. The Jewish Museum has removed its mask policy but still requires students touring the museum to wear protective face coverings. Everyone still has to wear masks at El Museo del Barrio. Only the children’s open studio at the Whitney (!) requires masks.
Can you tell me what it will take for art to catch up to science? In many places currently, including Florida and many European nations, the vaccine is no longer even recommended for healthy youngsters. Still, booster seats are a need for enrolling preschoolers at Alvin Ailey Dance.
Masked children under the age of 12 were extremely rare in Europe. Prior to the pandemic, the United States had frequently commended European practises for child protection. However, Europe seems to be ignored when it comes to the spread of COVID.
And mainstream society refuses to acknowledge that prolonged use of masks is hazardous to both children and the people around them. Even the most mask-obsessed parents must realise there is a price to be paid when their children always have their faces covered.
Seventy-five percent of teachers in a recent British poll said masks reduced student engagement because they muffled sound, made it more difficult for children with special needs to communicate, and made it tougher for shy students to raise their hands.
Disabled children who rely on lip reading and children with special needs who have trouble understanding body language had a particularly tough time in situations when masks were used. Children have reported feeling apprehensive during disguising.
Who is to blame for the prolonged anti-children and anti-science exploitative policies that use vulnerable audiences during moments that should be spiritually elevating?
Last year, despite the paediatric vaccination having emergency-use authorisation, Broadway insisted that children under the age of 12 wear masks and provide proof of a negative COVID test in order to enter the theatre.
They were completely banned from the Metropolitan Opera and Carnegie Hall, effectively relegating kids to the role of infectious vectors. Young artists and opera fans were deprived of two formative years of exposure to live performance while their counterparts in other states were enjoying their greatest years.
The brusque response I received from Alvin Ailey when I called to ask why it has children wear masks during a school performance that is supposed to be social, participatory, and entertaining was, “What’s the big deal, it’s just a mask!” I was ordered to keep my child at home and not come to the performance at all if I refused to comply with the mask policy, despite my protests that masks are harmful, especially to youngsters. Ailey seemed unfazed by the prospect of missing a day of class as a result of her absence.
This has really stung me. As someone who has supported the arts for as long as I can remember, I don’t get the reasoning behind the casual indifference to reintroducing children to the wonder and creativity that the arts provide.
These Kids Can’t Take Any More Hardship. when Is This Violence Going to End?
Natalya Murakhver is a co-founder of the non-profit Restore Childhood, which works to remove COVID mandates from schools and communities across the United States. Her upcoming film, “15 Days…” is being produced by her.