Optional masks create differences in school


Since the year of 2020, schools have worn masks in school all day everyday. However, things are different now.  In late February the CDC decided to be calm on the mask mandate in schools and public places, according to Yale Medicine. There was still a change but this helped decrease the chance of getting the virus. There has been a debate whether masks should be mandatory or not but having the choice is great because you have the option to wear it or not, especially now that Covid cases have started to decrease since the Omicron surge, according to Yale Medicine. There can also be more group work and socialization amongst students without the masks because it means Covid is getting better and group work can be used more frequently. Therefore, making masks optional is a good choice for schools to make. 

Firstly, the behavior of students without masks has changed. This won’t always be a bad behavioral outcome. For example,  media specialist Andrew Cusumano stated: “I think a lot of kids were excited when the masks were lifted, so that excitement  comes with different behaviors. However, I think after the initial week of the mandate being lifted, I think everyone is really calmed down and mellowed out and we’re going about our business the way it should be.”

  Eighth grader Nicole Trapani also has noticed some good behavior outcomes with masks being lifted. Nicole Trapani stated, “There were a lot more group activities within the classroom, and I feel that made kids more social with each other.” 

In addition, eighth grade Language Arts teacher Kimberly Swenson noticed some good changes about the school with optional masks. Mrs. Swenson reported, “I think students seem happier and more engaged without the masks. Being able to see each other’s  facial expressions and really communicate in a different way has helped them with group work.”
There are a lot of people who feel differently about the decision of  masks being optional in school. Sixth grader Casey Gilbert exclaimed, “I was very surprised because some people, like teachers I was not expecting to see, were not wearing masks, but I think it is a good thing.”

Seventh grader Adian Blom also has an opinion on masks in school. He stated, “I think the masks being optional is a good thing because you don’t feel  uncomfortable if you want to keep it on or not.”

Dr. Shapiro, who is a doctor in Connecticut explained how even when masks are optional, it is not the worst decision to continue to wear a mask. It is also still unclear if this decision was a political decision or a science decision. Dr. Shapiro explained, “We are getting into politics when we talk about mask mandates in public spaces as opposed to recommending them. I will not be wearing a mask for a long time – for as long as the virus is with us. It’s not unreasonable to wear a mask, but a mask mandate is something different, with all the legalese involved.” 

Masks are still optional, but who knows if it will last forever. Covid is still here and we need to do our part to help masks stay optional so everyone can be comfortable at where they are. Doctors have said that the virus is not gone and the rates and variants can come at any time. Jaimie Meyer, MD,MS, Yale Medicine infectious disease expert stated: “At the end of the day, now is not the time to completely ditch masks.”