Younger Massachusetts public school kids should add face masks to the list of must-haves when doing their back-to-school shopping for the fall semester. It appears as though kids under 12 years old may be mandated to mask up when the new school year begins.

The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) and the Department of Public Health (DPH) have offered guidance to school districts on face masks for returning students. In a joint statement, the agencies “strongly recommend that all students in kindergarten through grade 6 wear masks when indoors, except students who cannot do so due to medical conditions or behavioral needs.” The DESE and DPH say fully vaccinated students should be allowed to forgo masks. Older kids who have not been vaccinated should consider wearing a mask.

Here we go again.

The Delta variant of COVID-19 is reportedly surging. While it appears less impactful in terms of hospitalizations and deaths to date, the reactionaries are aflutter with new mandates and advice for how we should live our lives.

The thought of young children sucking in cloth fibers for hours on end from wet, nasty face masks is appalling. There is no science to indicate this is needed. Wearing masks and social distancing destroys the educational experience of our children – and potentially their health as well. Wearing masks is not natural and forces kids to breathe in the very things they are naturally supposed to be breathing out.

The kids will return to school after spending the summer months in close contact with other kids and adults. There has been no outbreak of Delta reported among the under 12 crowd anywhere that I have heard of.

Leave families to decide if their children need to wear a mask to school and get the suits the hell out of our lives with their pandemic hysteria.

Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at barry@wbsm.com and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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