Katie’s Musings – COVID Consent Aug 12, 2020 | COVID To mask or not to mask… that is the question. …. no actually, it really isn’t a question. #WearAMask and #ListenToTheScientists Realistically, unless there are widespread policy changes, this next year (at least) is going to be a huge lesson in boundaries, consent, and good ol’ human compassion. As I thought about this and how I would navigate what I’ve dubbed the covid dance, a framework came to mind: a guide that does not diminish individual agency in decision making and places consent and compassion into the covid context. CONSIDERATIONS FOR COMPASSIONATE COVID DANCE OF CONSENT 1) Individual consent – what covid risk level am I personally comfortable with? Where do I feel safe and able to maintain a 6’ distance from people unmasked? If I get covid, then what? How comfortable do I feel being unmasked around friends? Does it depend on the friend? Does it depend on whether or not that friend is quarantining to my level? Do I have underlying health conditions? What is my work environment like and how safe do I feel there without a mask on? 2) Household consent – what covid risk level am I comfortable exposing my household to? Given the contagious nature of covid, anything I am exposed to has a good chance of being passed to members of my household. What is their risk consent level? What are their underlying health conditions to take into consideration? 3) Friend groups/non-household family consent: what covid risk level are we all comfortable with? What is the risk consent level of the folks I want to hang out with? Are we at the same risk consent level? Are we quarantining similarly? Do we feel comfortable with the potential risk (presented to us as individuals and to our households) enough to remove our masks? Does EVERYONE feel comfortable with the choice? 4) Public indoor space consent – what is the covid risk level of the people I may come into contact with there? What is the risk consent level of the people in this store/place? Can I guarantee I know what that is for every person I may encounter? Does the store have a mask policy? AND THEN… this is the tricky part, but then comes the COMPASSION part of the dance: If I am a compassionate person and committed to living into that compassion, committed to respecting boundaries and consent… I have to cater to the strictest risk consent level I will encounter in any of those spaces. I may not agree with their caution, but I have to respect their boundaries and consent. I may feel safe in spaces they don’t, but I have to respect their boundaries and consent. I may feel inconvenienced, but I have to respect their boundaries and consent. (IT’S A DARN MASK AND WEARING IT IS NOT A HARDSHIP but I know there are folks for whom this is an issue) Will it mean turning down invitations? Totally. Will it mean awkward questions and conversations with friends and family members? Absolutely. At first. But I’m pretty sure such questions will become commonplace in a short amount of time. Pandemic world is weird. We are all struggling with how to navigate it. But I’m pretty sure boundaries, consent, and compassion are a good way to start.