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Let's chat about schools enforcing dress codes but making masks a 'personal choice'

This week, viral photos from the first day of school in various Georgia counties showed students crowded together with few masks in sight. Schools in the same area had to shut down entire classrooms due to positive tests after the first day back, quarantining students and teachers for two weeks.

In these counties, students are "encouraged" to wear a mask at school, but they are not required. Mask-wearing is referred to as a "personal choice."

This week, a private Christian college in a town near where I live announced that is planning to resume in-person classes this fall. The school has decided that students will not be required to wear masks, despite the fact that the town itself has a mask mandate for all public spaces. "No riots. No masks. In person. This fall," the college wrote in a Facebook post advertising the school last month.

The supposed justification for not requiring students to wear masks is that it's a "personal choice," and that students have the freedom to choose whether to wear one or not.

That's a neat story. Except it is totally hypocritical coming from schools and school districts that have no problem placing limits on personal choice and freedom by mandating stringent dress codes for students.


In Cherokee County school district in Georgia, students must wear pant legs that don't touch the ground, shirts that completely cover the shoulders, and skirts or pants without frayed edges. But they don't have to wear masks in the middle of a literal pandemic.

The dress code for New Saint Andrew College dictates that male students must wear button-up shirts (but no polos), dress pants and dress shoes at all times. Women must wear dresses, dress shirts and dress pants or skirt, dress shoes, and "at least one extra item (scarf, visible and dressy jewelry, dressy jacket, blazer, cardigan, etc.)." But they don't have to wear masks in the middle of a literal pandemic.

A few other choice details from the college's dress code:

- "Students must maintain good hygiene and grooming, both for the sake of the student's appearance and for the comfort of others nearby." (Umm, doesn't good hygiene include not keeping germs to yourself in a pandemic? I know that would make me comfortable.)

- "Students must keep their shoes on at all times." (Sooo, shoes on at ALL times. Masks on during a pandemic only if you feel like it. Got it.)

- "Black academic robes (available for purchase from the college bookstore) are required at disputatio, convocation, commencement, and oral finals for matriculating students who have earned 32 credits toward their degree program. Robes do not replace proper dress and must be worn over top of correct clothing as required by the dress code." (So you have to wear the black robes in these instances. As in, no personal choice in the matter. But making students wear masks to mitigate a contagious novel virus spread is too much to ask.)

It's pretty clear that the refusal to mandate masks is not about personal freedom; it's about political statements. Because too many of our leaders and too much of our hyperpolarized society insist on turning everything under the sun—including basic science—into a partisan argument, somehow mask-wearing has become something political.

Public health is not a partisan thing. It shouldn't even be a political thing. The pandemic doesn't care about your political beliefs. Period.

Presumably, dress codes are in place to protect students in some way, right? To keep the environment safe and conducive to learning? How is mandating masks to keep students and teachers safer in a pandemic any different?

The only way I can see that it's different is that masks actually have science to back up their use, they're recommended by public health officials, and they're useful in helping not only the students, but the entire community at large.

Seriously, you can't enforce a dress code under normal circumstances and then turn around and say that you won't enforce mask-wearing in a pandemic because of "freedom." If schools were really concerned about personal freedom when it comes to putting things on your body, students wouldn't be required to keep their shoulders covered or wear shoes. The blatant hypocrisy is ridiculous.

I took my 16-year-old to the store the other day, and as we walked in, she said, "It makes me so happy to see all these people wearing masks." We live in a state that requires masks in public. And I agreed with her; it's a relief to know that everyone will be masked when you go into a store or other public place. We know that masking is most effective if everyone does it. Our governor has taken heat from the "but my freedom" folks over the mandate, but I'm grateful for the clarity and decisive action based on public health recommendations. Too many people have already proven that they won't wear masks if they are not required. My state has gone from having the first outbreak in the nation to #23 for total cases, and I credit the requirements the government put in place to keep spread under control.

If schools are going to open, masks should absolutely be part of the strict, required safety protocol to keep the pandemic as controlled as possible. Letting it be a "personal choice" won't work, as evidenced by what we've already seen in Georgia. While keeping masks on little kids is a whole other question, high school and college students can handle it. Toughen up and save lives. It's really that simple.

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She bought the perfect wedding dress that went viral on TikTok. It was only $3.75

Lynch is part of a growing line of newlyweds going against the regular wedding tradition of spending loads of money.

Making a priceless memory

Upon first glance, one might think that Jillian Lynch wore a traditional (read: expensive) dress to her wedding. After all, it did look glamorous on her. But this 32-year-old bride has a secret superpower: thrifting.

Lynch posted her bargain hunt on TikTok, sharing that she had been perusing thrift shops in Ohio for four days in a row, with the actual ceremony being only a month away. Lynch then displays an elegant ivory-colored Camila Coelho dress. Fitting perfectly, still brand new and with the tags on it, no less.

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This article originally appeared on 08.21.18


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"Mom missed the memo it was parent day, and the reason her mom missed the memo was her dad left Wednesday," said Alexis Perry-Rodriguez, Addie's mom. She continued, "It was really heartbreaking to see your daughter standing out there being the only one without their father, knowing why he's away. It's not just an absentee parent. He's serving our country."

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1991 blooper clip of Robin Williams and Elmo is a wholesome nugget of comedic genius

Robin Williams is still bringing smiles to faces after all these years.

Robin Williams and Elmo (Kevin Clash) bloopers.

The late Robin Williams could make picking out socks funny, so pairing him with the fuzzy red monster Elmo was bound to be pure wholesome gold. Honestly, how the puppeteer, Kevin Clash, didn’t completely break character and bust out laughing is a miracle. In this short outtake clip, you get to see Williams crack a few jokes in his signature style while Elmo tries desperately to keep it together.

Williams has been a household name since what seems like the beginning of time, and before his death in 2014, he would make frequent appearances on "Sesame Street." The late actor played so many roles that if you were ask 10 different people what their favorite was, you’d likely get 10 different answers. But for the kids who spent their childhoods watching PBS, they got to see him being silly with his favorite monsters and a giant yellow canary. At least I think Big Bird is a canary.

When he stopped by "Sesame Street" for the special “Big Bird's Birthday or Let Me Eat Cake” in 1991, he was there to show Elmo all of the wonderful things you could do with a stick. Williams turns the stick into a hockey stick and a baton before losing his composure and walking off camera. The entire time, Elmo looks enthralled … if puppets can look enthralled. He’s definitely paying attention before slumping over at the realization that Williams goofed a line. But the actor comes back to continue the scene before Elmo slinks down inside his box after getting Williams’ name wrong, which causes his human co-star to take his stick and leave.

The little blooper reel is so cute and pure that it makes you feel good for a few minutes. For an additional boost of serotonin, check out this other (perfectly executed) clip about conflict that Williams did with the two-headed monster. He certainly had a way of engaging his audience, so it makes sense that even after all of these years, he's still greatly missed.