Many were relieved when they heard Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announce the relaxation of the mask rules during his recent National Day Rally speech. It was not just "masks off" that we were happy about, but also that the nation is ready to move forward from the pandemic.
Yesterday, the first day that mask rules were relaxed, my husband and I took our seven-year-old to school, all of us happy that masks were no longer required in school.
Our child can learn phonics properly, can read the expressions of his friends and teachers and can thus experience the nuances of human communication.
But instead of seeing children's happy faces, we saw almost all of them wearing masks. Children are like sponges - they take cues from parents and adults around them. The children were likely wearing masks due to parents' paranoia that they should wear a mask "just in case" they encounter Covid-19.
I know that we should not take risks when it comes to health matters, but I trust the Government's judgment that the downsides of masks now outweigh their benefits. I am perplexed by people continuing to wear them "just in case". I worry that this reflects what is to come for our future.
We are a small nation. We have gone far because of our leaders' fortitude and willingness to take risks. It is imperative that our children be innovative, creative and willing to take calculated risks so that our nation and people have a good chance of succeeding in this volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world.
There is nothing wrong with being cautious, but both risks and benefits need to be considered. Removing masks may increase the risk of disease, but brings benefits such as the potential for our children to communicate more easily, learn better and be more socially apt. As an educator and parent, I believe we need to set an example for our children.
Some may say I might have read too much into mask-wearing, but our "just in case" fear can transfer easily to our children, and this would most probably mean that our future generation may become a "just in case" generation. Lam Yeng Ming