Wear a mask, save a life!
COURIER LIFE, MAY 8-14, 2020 29
Should you be ticketed by
the NYPD if you’re caught
venturing outside without
wearing a mask?
Under normal circumstances,
no. But the COVID-19
pandemic is anything but.
Last month, Governor Andrew
Cuomo issued an executive
order mandating that anyone
going out in public must
wear a mask or a bandana over
their nose and mouth. It was
contrary to advice given at the
start of the outbreak in New
York back in March, when public
health offi cials discouraged
residents from wearing masks
in public because it wouldn’t
make them any safer.
However, as health offi cials’
advice has changed.
Why? Because if you cough
or sneeze without guarding
yourself, saliva and water droplets
spray out of your nose and
mouth up to six feet away.
If you’re infected with coronavirus
and cough or sneeze,
you’ll be sending the germs fl ying
into the air, where others
might inhale it. The saliva and
droplets will land on touchable
surfaces, where the virus may
live for many hours or even
We know this now through
the research conducted over
the past few months, all over the
world, about the easy spread of
COVID-19. Wearing a mask out
in public now doesn’t necessarily
protect you from the virus; it
protects others from potentially
contracting it from you.
Which brings us back to the
original question at the start of
We have speed limits to protect
drivers and pedestrians
from serious injury or death.
We have building codes to protect
residents and owners from
household disasters. We have
food safety regulations to protect
the food supply. When these
rules are broken, appropriate
punitive action is taken against
It should be no different
when it comes to the mask mandate
in New York state.
Don’t think of wearing a
mask as merely a way to avoid a
ticket. Do it to save a life.
A mom’s refl ection on remote learning
BY JILL CYSNER
The other day I heard my
daughter and her classmates
taking turns reading A Midsummer
Night’s Dream aloud
during their (virtual) seventhgrade
English class. Just from
listening, I could tell that the
kids had a level of comfort with
their teacher, built over the
months they spent in the classroom
I think that comfort is the
reason they’re able to have real
engagement and interaction
now — through their computer
I’ve heard from many of my
colleagues that their kids are
just getting assignments to do
on their own time, which is too
bad. While it’s great that my
kids are still learning new material,
I’m less concerned about
a slip in academics than I am
about the social interactions
they’re missing out on. Video
calls may be a poor substitute
for real-life engagement, but
for now, I’m grateful that my
kids regularly see their teachers’
and classmates’ faces and
hear their voices. Under the
circumstances, this seems to
be as close to the norm as it
Like many parents, I have
two very different kids.
My daughter, Ava, loves academics
and has almost always
been able to complete assignments
independently. With Jonah,
my fi fth grader, I have to do
everything in my power to get
him to do his homework. When
they started remote learning, I
thought it would be harder on
Jonah. But he’s actually thriving.
I get the occasional text
from his teacher when she can
tell that he’s not focused or not
participating in class, and I’ll
pop in and check on him. That’s
been working well.
Unexpectedly, Ava is now the
one who needs a little more support.
In class, when her teacher
covers something that she feels
like she already knows, she
gets bored and checks out. This
happened in the classroom, but
now, there’s no teacher in the
room to bring her back to focus.
Instead, she’s free to grab her
phone and scroll, and it’s hard
to bring her back once she’s lost
We’re still new at this remote
learning thing. Teachers
are still gauging how their students
Every morning, teachers
at Success Academy Bed-Stuy
Middle School start the day by
checking in with the scholars
in their homeroom to see how
they’re doing emotionally before
everyone starts another
day. When I talk to their teachers,
we share updates about the
kids, but you have to remember
that teachers are also going
through this. There’s a personal
and professional impact
on everyone. I’m very grateful.
I feel like I’m on a team with
teachers and school staff, with a
common goal of supporting our
kids through this crisis.
Despite the challenging
circumstances, there are defi -
nitely moments of humor. I will
be on a conference call, and
then I’ll realize it’s 11:50 am and
I say, “Okay, wait. I gotta go to
lunch and recess! I gotta get off
this call!” Then I go and make
my kids lunch, which is actually
great for me — as a fulltime
working mom who doesn’t
get to spend this much time
with her kids, it’s wonderful because
we’re all doing our thing
but doing it around each other.
I don’t think it’s an exaggeration
to say that parents now
have multiple full-time jobs at
once. I have my job as a parent
supervising remote learning,
and my professional job that
I feel incredibly lucky to still
have. And it’s really hard to do
both jobs well at the same time.
I’m probably not the only
one experiencing “mom guilt”
on a daily basis. I feel like I have
to decide which job I’m going to
focus on that day, hour, or minute,
and manage my expectations.
Determining what small
things I can control among
the chaos has been helpful for
me. I try to get a good night’s
sleep, make sure the dishes
are washed and the laundry is
folded, and have food prepped.
When the inevitable bad day
occurs, we’ve learned that hot
showers, watching movies on
the couch together, and eating
lots of sweets makes us feel better.
Little things like that help
me feel like everything isn’t
The lesson that I think we,
adults, keep learning over and
over again is that kids are resilient.
There are a lot of unknowns
right now, but we’re
going to fi gure it out. My kids
learned in their fi rst years as
Success Academy scholars that
you “try and try” until you succeed.
Right now, we’re all trying
what feels like the right
thing for this particular moment.
Maybe tomorrow, we’ll
try something new — and that’s
As long as we keep trying,
we’ll get through this together.
And the kids will be alright.
Jill Cysner is a Success Academy
parent and the vice president
of PM Pediatrics, a nationwide
urgent care provider
for children. She is passionate
about world travel and seeing
the world through her kids’ eyes.
Jill lives in Brooklyn with her
Photo by Jill Cysner