Call it Mommy-cron shaming.
Two years into the pandemic, New York is besieged by another surge of COVID-19, thanks to its most infectious strain yet. And with schools back open after the holidays — and vaccines available for all children over the age of 5 — parents are at odds over how to deal with the latest wave. For some, a double or triple-vaxxed household, on top of a generally milder variant, is enough to convince them that gatherings, playdates and air travel are worth the risk.
But for others, the new spike has left them feeling vulnerable again — and angry with families who are out and about, potentially bringing Omicron back into the classroom.
‘We can’t stop living our lives’
“I don’t care what anyone thinks,” said Lee Klein, a mother of two from Long Island who took her family to Disney World in Florida over the winter break.
“If people are so concerned with someone who traveled going back to school, then why have my kids been in masks every day for as long as they have, and why are they sitting 3 feet apart and not allowed to play together indoors? I thought masks are supposed to protect. You can’t have it both ways — pick a side,” Klein said.
Klein said she took precautions before flying with her husband and their 5 and 7-year-old kids, even canceling her daughter’s fifth birthday party to avoid a big, pre-holiday gathering.
She said it was worth it to enjoy 80-degree days in December, and the kids were healthy when they returned to school on Monday. If anyone judged her for traveling, they mostly kept it to themselves, she said. “I feel like I got a lot more, ‘I’m so jealous you got out of here’ comments.”
Not everyone has been so lucky.
Jennifer Minsky set off for Cancun with her family over break, after being forced to cancel the trip twice already during the pandemic. Both her kids, ages 2 and 5, have special needs, and the West Orange, NJ mom told The Post that the family needed the getaway for their “mental health.”
But upon their return, the shaming started. When she posted on Facebook about their bad experience flying back from Mexico, the judgmental comments rolled in: “There were a lot of people who were really nasty to me, saying, ‘Well, you chose to travel in a pandemic during the holidays,’” said Minsky. (She, her husband and older son are all vaccinated.)
She said now that they’re back, people are even skipping her younger son’s upcoming birthday party, despite her family being COVID-free. “We’re very careful as much as we can be, but we can’t stop living our lives.”
‘There’s a lot of resentment’
Experts say that in the absence of a remote-learning option in public schools, and more specific behavioral guidelines, these kind of COVID-related standoffs have become de facto all over the city.
Manhattan Private Schools Advisors founder Amanda Uhry told The Post that “everybody is suspicious of everyone else for everything. There’s 100 percent shaming.” That’s especially true for those who have risked it to jet-set to far-flung locales — “Iceland, St. Croix, the Caymans” — while other families are practically locking down like it’s March 2020.
“There’s a lot of resentment,” Uhry said, and it trickles down to the kids. “It breaks up friendships, and it’s not good for classrooms — some kids can play, some can’t. If some kid went skiing in Europe [during] Christmas, would you let your kid play with him? It’s a mess.”
She said that some parents, terrified of COVID, “are freaking out — they don’t want to send their kids back to school.” Indeed, NYC public schools are dealing with massive teacher and student absences, with 33 percent missing class on Monday and 28 percent on Tuesday.
Manhattan mom Lisa Maltz opted to send her only child off to middle school on the first day back — but it was heartbreaking.
After dropping her vaccinated son off at his private school, Maltz said she “puked [her] guts out,” upon hearing that six kids in his class were out sick. In an effort to stay healthy, she canceled their planned trip to Florida over the holiday break, only to find out that “everyone traveled.”
“I spent two years avoiding this thing,” said Maltz, who founded the Web site Have A Nanny Need a Nanny. “I know he’s going to get it this week.”
A Long Island-based mother of three, who declined to give her name for privacy reasons, was so worried about her vaccinated kids picking up COVID from their jet-setting classmates that she kept them home from school the first two days of this week.
“We stayed very careful over break,” she said. “I was sick after looking at Facebook and all the New Year’s Eve parties and people talking about how hard their lives are while hang gliding in the Dominican Republic — while we sat here.”
She said moms in her community have been “narcing each other out and sharing screenshots” of posts from their freewheeling friends and neighbors.
“Social media is the true storyteller,” she said. “Everyone is saying they’re careful. No one says, ‘I’m the a–hole and superspreader.’”