PerspectivesNikesha Elise Williams Jacksonville Today Contributor

Opinion: When are we going to get back to normal?

Published on December 13, 2021 at 1:28 pm

My son lied to me about wearing his mask. He lied for nearly two weeks straight. I had been sending him to school with a mask every day. He wore it getting out of the car. He wore it getting in the car. Then last week, I forgot to make sure he had his mask, so I messaged his teacher to make sure he got one from the office. That is when she informed me that he had been going sans mask. My son lied to her too. He told her that I gave him permission to no longer wear a mask. 

The backstory to this elaborate first grade scheme is that my son is fully vaccinated — he’s received both Pfizer shots — and he’s been asking since he got the first shot if I could opt him out of a mask. That the state Legislature passed new bills, and the governor signed them into law, making Duval Schools’ mask mandate null and void, has been information I’ve not bothered to explain to him. 

The truth is, I’ve been pondering whether to let him go without a mask come the new year for weeks. Then omicron popped up and is now spreading across the globe faster than its prior corona cousins. The threat posed by the new variant worries me. The data on how quickly the virus spreads, infects, and how deadly it is remains incomplete. Yes, I know children are not as susceptible to COVID as adults. Yes, I know anyone who is vaccinated has the best protection against the virus and its variants. Yet, still, I worry. 

Children have died from COVID. Florida has not reached that magic threshold number of 70% for herd immunity. Duval County is even further behind the state. The country as a whole is behind as well. These are my concerns as a parent. But they’re no match for daily entreaties of:


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“Mom, can you opt me out?” 

“Mom, I’m vaccinated now.” 

“Mom, all my friends are vaccinated too. We talked about it.” 

“Mom, I’m the only one in my class who has to wear a mask.” 

The peer pressure my son faces is a lot different than what I would have expected. It’s also coming a lot earlier than I expected. All I want to do is keep him safe from threats seen and unseen, but his questions mirror those among adults, “When are we going to get back to normal?” 

Also by Nikesha Elise Williams: Voting is the price of freedom

I don’t want to live the rest of my life wearing a mask when I am around large groups of people. As someone who admittedly never gets a flu shot, I’m not super keen on getting a COVID booster every six months to prevent illness from that virus either. Yet here I am — here we all are, trying to decide what is right for ourselves, for our families, still in the throes of a global pandemic that seems endless and a virus that is not going anywhere.

I have no answers or concrete solutions, only a persistent, petulant child who wants to get back to living his life the way he did for his first five years of life. 

Dear son…don’t we all.   


author image Jacksonville Today Contributor

Nikesha Elise Williams is an Emmy-winning TV producer, award-winning novelist (Beyond Bourbon Street and Four Women) and the host/producer of the Black & Published podcast. Her bylines include The Washington Post, ESSENCE, and Vox. She lives in Jacksonville with her family.

author image Jacksonville Today Contributor

Nikesha Elise Williams is an Emmy-winning TV producer, award-winning novelist (Beyond Bourbon Street and Four Women) and the host/producer of the Black & Published podcast. Her bylines include The Washington Post, ESSENCE, and Vox. She lives in Jacksonville with her family.


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