With Massachusetts' outdoor mask order set to be lifted Friday, and with the federal mask mandate now relaxed for fully-vaccinated Americans, some parents are wondering where that leaves children who aren't eligible to be vaccinated.
"I do see a lot of parents with children … not enforcing them wearing a mask, and I get it, the kids are going to fight it that age, but I try to instill it and keep putting it back on," said Northbridge mom Felicia Tebo.
"You've just got to teach them to be self-responsible and aware of the situation that we're living in right now," said Northbridge dad Kyle Bigness.
But for someone like Natalie Alcantar of Northbridge, whose family members are immunocompromised and whose teen friends may or may not be vaccinated, it creates a tricky dynamic.
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"I would feel uncomfortable to be around them and not wearing a mask, knowing that others are in danger, too, and we're just not being safe about it, just makes me worried," Alcantar said.
"Certainly, we have not yet heard of the application of this new recommendation to unvaccinated children," said Dr. Rick Malley with Boston Children's Hospital.
Malley says as we work through the nuances of these adjustments to outdoor masking, we need to use common sense.
"One has to recognize putting a mask when you're walking alone in the woods, for example, never made a lot of sense, said Malley. "It was just really to simplify the recommendations."
But Malley stresses that doesn't mean we can just throw away our masks – it needs to be situational.
"Making sure that children understand that while they can be outdoors with family members who've been vaccinated, that doesn't mean that they can gather along in a large group of their friends unprotected," Malley said.
Both federal and state guidelines still call for wearing a mask when you're in larger groups where you can't practice social distancing, whether vaccinated or not.