The morning of February 28 was the first time in nearly two years, my teenage son went to school without the need to wear a mask.

My son is in the 9th grade. If my dates are correct, he has been wearing his mask at school, during basketball practices and while playing games since 7th grade. Much like pencils, pens, and his Chromebook, his mask was like another school supply that he put in his backpack each day to use—and did so without complaining.

For the past two school years, I’ve called out to him nearly every morning, “Do you have your mask?” as he would leave for the bus. And that first Monday morning after February vacation, it was somewhat strange not to do that for the first time in a long time. (Nonetheless, I told him to keep a mask in his backpack—just in case.)

In a recent poll taken by in which 6,000 parents responded, close to 90 percent agreed it was time to ease up on mask requirements in school.

Still, when the announcement came that wearing masks would be optional for students in our community, I was initially happy for my son, but then also a bit weary, knowing that cases will likely increase again and there are children who aren’t eligible to get vaccinated or are immunocompromised.

When my son came home that Monday, I asked him how it felt not to be wearing a mask anymore. He kind of shrugged his shoulders and said it was fine. Then he added, “I guess it was kind of nice to be able to breathe a little easier.”

Someday James, I hope we all can.