Dear Editor, 

I find it interesting that Judge DiMatteo didn’t recuse herself from this case given that her husband is a high school teacher in Arlington Public Schools. That seems like a conflict of interest.

No matter the decision, it’s really time to change the masking narrative. We are repeatedly hearing messages that if we don’t wear a mask, we’re unkind, stupid, or now, racist. Those words are powerful and effective at controlling our behavior. Even the people who question the efficacy of masks often comply for fear of being social pariahs – especially here in Fairfax County. On the other hand, mask-wearing makes some people feel special. That thing on their face is now a symbol of their self-worth. They are sympathetic, rule-following, intelligent humanitarians. For some, masking is the new self-identifying, braggy car magnet.

Even when the CDC is calling the effectiveness of cloth masks into question, we are still marching to the beat of that drum. Our children are suffering from side-effects of all-day masking (like headaches and articulation disorders), but they’ve doubled down on the mandates. Meanwhile, in Northern Virginia, we’ve continued collectively accepting these dichotomies of kind/unkind and smart/stupid. This is the locutionary framework we’ve followed for almost two years. But it’s antiquated and we need a change.

Masking is actually about freedom of choice. Power is meant to be in the hands of the people. The government – whether national, state or local – is not meant to ban what the ruling power is against and mandate all for which it stands. There are two questions to pose in the consideration of all governance. First, what is the general opinion on the issue. But arguably more importantly: Should the government legislate on that issue? In the case of masking, it’s been two years. We know a great deal more now than we did when the pandemic started. It’s time to end the mandates and give people the freedom to choose. 

Stephanie Lundquist-Arora

Mother of 3 Sons Illegally Suspended for 9 Days from FCPS on Mask Violations