Hot or cold lunch. Hair in a ponytail or braid. Swings or soccer at recess. Bus or ride with a friend/parent. As a kid, these were the choices we or our parents got to make on a daily basis for school. Luckily, myself and my own children still get to make these choices, but there is one choice we don’t get to make. Mask or no mask. Instead, the “choice” is, which color do you want to wear today.

At this point, we have to ask ourselves, what is more important? For me, the importance comes with a choice and not a mandate. I want to choose what is most important for me and my children. I should have that choice and you should have your choice. The option to choose.

As a former Telluride school district (TSD) teacher, my heart goes out to all our local teachers and my friends that are teachers with the constant challenges they have faced in the last 22 months. I don’t overlook this lightly. I was delighted and almost giddy to actually enter the TSD buildings this school year after missing out on the opportunity last year when my oldest started kindergarten. I felt the need to make up for missed time and actually help. During my short volunteer spurts this year, I think, how are all students and teachers thriving? They may be surviving, but I don’t think they are totally thriving. Teachers, all staff and students should be given a choice. A choice to choose how they would thrive best. Mask or no mask. The option to choose.

One of my favorite and usually most effective strategies as a former teacher and parent is the power of choice. It allows freedom, empowerment and independence. Simply the right to choose usually diffuses a brewing battle. It is time to give parents, teachers, staff and students a choice. You want you and/or your child to wear a mask? I support that opinion and choice. I want my child to experience the remainder of her primary and fundamental school years unmasked. I should have that choice.

When school gets out or the weekend comes, my first grader is always begging for a play date or to go do a fun activity along with her little sister. And she usually asks, do we have to wear a mask? I want to support local and continue to be involved in this wonderful community I have called home for almost 14 years, but I find myself wanting to escape and we have. Even if it is just to Ouray, Montrose or Grand Junction for shopping, a meal out, entertainment or birthday parties — all just to have the choice to wear a mask or not.

I don’t care if you are vaccinated or unvaccinated. Drive a truck or a car. Prefer steak or veggies. Chose dual immersion or the traditional route for your child. The list could go on. They all have a commonality though and that is choice. Masks indoors needs to be added to that choice list. Especially for the kids.

I urge those who believe in the power and fundamental right of having a choice to speak up. The use of masks in our school system should be a choice. Although I am respectful of other opinions, this is my opinion and I want my voice to be heard. Loud and clear. Choice.

Krista Kimball

Mom of two