An image of masks on a yellow background.

Late last month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) both recommended that all students in grades K through 12 wear masks, regardless of vaccination status. This guidance came down just as COVID-19 cases began spiking around the country as a result of the more transmissible Delta variant.

Many school districts have said they will require masks for students this fall, but some states—such as Arkansas, Vermont, Arizona, and Texas—are doing the exact opposite by enacting laws that bar school districts from mandating masks, reports a CNN analysis.

Now, parents in these school districts are voicing their concerns and pointing out the hypocrisy of schools enforcing antiquated dress codes but refusing to mandate masks.

What Parents Are Saying About Enforcing Dress Codes Over Mask Mandates

Becky Bracken, a Phoenix-based mom of a sixth grader, took to Facebook on August 15 to share in a private post that there had been a positive COVID test in her daughter's class. "Only TWO of her teachers are wearing masks," noted Bracken. "She woke up Saturday with the sniffles. Couldn't find a test anywhere. Finally scored a home test which was given to me by a pharmacy tech without a mask."

She then shared a screenshot of the email she sent to her daughter's school. "My kid is 10, can't be vaccinated, wears her mask, and is going to miss another year of school because the same district that won't let girls wear spaghetti straps doesn't have the wherewithal to take basic safety measures."

Screenshot of email

A mom from Tennessee who sees the situation much like Bracken went viral last week for an email she sent to her school district. After Republican Governor Bill Lee enacted a statewide policy making masks optional, the mom who is going by Wendy (for privacy reasons) wrote to the school board of East Hamilton High School, where her daughter is starting her senior year.

"As the parent of a daughter at East Hamilton, I find the school's dress code policy to be misogynistic and detrimental to the self-esteem of young women," she noted. "Rather than shaming young women into covering their shoulders (and other parts of their body), I believe we should empower female students to have agency over their own bodies and to wear clothing that is comfortable for them and contributes to their ability to enhance their learning experience."

She continued, "In light of the opt-out option related to the recently announced mask mandate, I can only assume that parents are now in a position to pick and choose the school policies to which their child should be subject. As someone who holds a strong commitment to my feminist ideals and my desire to raise my daughter to be a strong and empowered woman able to make choices for herself, I find that the school's dress code does not align with my belief system. I therefore intend to … send my daughter to school in spaghetti straps, leggings, cut offs, and anything else she feels comfortable wearing to school."

Screencaps of the email were shared on social media by local news outlet the Tennessee Holler.

People on Instagram and Twitter applauded the mom, similarly furious about the double standard.

Twitter user @NoellevrSchultz wrote, "Schools should start waking up to the insane double standards they seem intent on implementing. The hypocrisy is mind-numbing."

Instagram user @emilyinyourphone reposted the thread, writing, "Parents need to make this a thing."

And The Lily spoke to another Tennessee parent Mari Smith who said she was awed by Wendy's email. She noted that she was most incensed by "the idea that they can't enforce kids wearing a mask that keeps other kids safe, but they are happy to send a kid home when a girl's shorts are too short."

Bracken couldn't agree more. "Our schools started three weeks ago, and COVID is running rampant," she tells "Schools have all kinds of random requirements. Laura's school doesn't allow spaghetti straps or bare midriffs. The fact that they would have a dress code mandating what girls can wear but not mandating masks is just almost unbearable hypocrisy."

Where Parents Plan to Go From Here

Both Bracken and Tennessee mom Wendy say they have not received responses from their daughters' school districts. But they, like many parents, are determined to continue speaking out on the issue.

As Wendy told The Lily, "We're going to continue to advocate on this issue and push for policies that are supported by medical data and the recommendations of experts. We'll do whatever we can to keep our children and our teachers safe."


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