The Masked Author

Hey cHEwY gum gums!

An author friend reached out to a few of us, asking for advice about how authors and illustrators can stay covid-safe at school visits. While it’s great to see schools being back in-person, along with a raft of restrictions, I did wonder how long it would be before I was allowed to be at schools again?

Thankfully, I did my first one last week at a local school, where I knew someone who worked there. I did three writing workshops with my mask on, along with the teachers and students who were also masked. For the most part it was fine. My teacher friends have told me that it can be tricky barking instructions and having to raise up their voices with their masks, now I get it. I did have the novelty of being a guest, so the kids were attentive. Plus I was only doing a writing workshop, where I wasn’t doing a whole lot of talking.

Now, it would be a different matter if I was doing an actual author talk, with my plush toys, props…the whole song and dance. I’ve already adjusted a lot of my talk to avoid student interactions such as asking them to volunteer to come up with me to do a scene. But a lot of comedic performance relies on expressions, and a lot of that will be lost if I wear a mask. So, provided that there is a sizeable gap between myself and the audience, I may have to ask to do the performance without a mask, and then put it straight on. I ask for permission to take my mask off for any photos too, but I’m happy either way.

After almost 2 years of being starved of in-person visits, I am happy to follow through every protocol that each school provides. As authors and illustrators, we’ve gone through safety and child-protection protocols in the past. I know that some schools are stricter than others. So to answer my author friend, we have to take each situation as it comes. We all want to be healthy and safe, and I’m not even talking strictly about Covid, it would be nice to avoid getting the cold or flu as well.

So any authors and illustrators, tell me how you’ll navigate in-person school visits 🙂


About the author

I'm an author, stand-up comedian and teacher. My books include Thai-riffic!, Con-nerd, Punchlines and The Other Christy. I'm a massive Nintendo fan and love eating burgers. Follow me on Twitter or Instagram @oliverwinfree

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