Students are divided on removing mask mandate

Graphic by Brianna Moreno-Angel

By Lily Angel and June Peers

It’s about time we removed the mask mandate

On Friday September 16, Executive Director Brian Bauer released a statement saying that Granada Hills Charter (GHC) will no longer require the use of masks indoors. Up until then, GHC was one of the only schools that continued to require wearing masks indoors in Los Angeles County.  The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) lifted its mask mandate on March 12. 

Now, however, students may choose whether or not they feel masks are still necessary. They are still strongly recommended, but not required.

Though we should try reducing our risk of getting COVID-19 through vaccines, I think it is great that the school no longer infringes upon our right to choose if we want to wear masks. 

If you are worried about getting COVID-19, then wear a mask. If you aren’t, then don’t. It’s as simple as that; people shouldn’t be forced to follow a protocol that serves as a nuisance to them simply just to appease a vocal minority. It’s about time the school removed the mandate.

Having to constantly wear a mask five days a week while students from other schools did not caused many of us to feel frustrated with the school, now maybe that frustration will be eased. 

“It’s difficult to breathe with the mask on, especially with the hot weather. I also don’t like how it makes my acne break out,” freshman Khloe Zendejas said.

Though you could argue that there is a larger issue behind mask-wearing than just difficulty breathing and maskne, the mask still causes discomfort. 

The number of students who choose to not wear masks outside has increased drastically from last year, demonstrating how our student body is starting to find the practice of mask-wearing less purposeful than they had a year ago due to the recent vaccine mandate.  

According to Healthline, vaccines without boosters offer 30 to 40 percent protection against infection and 70 percent protection against hospitalization. Also according to Healthline, the COVID-19 booster shot increases antibody production, which causes it to be 75 percent more effective against infection. Though vaccines do offer some protection, vaccines are not completely effective at preventing the risk of contracting COVID-19. 

The transition from following COVID-19 protocols to living in a maskless world will definitely spark controversy. But, for those still wishing for a mask mandate, when will it be the right time to stop wearing masks? Soon? In a year? A decade? Never?” 

Yes, I do fear that COVID-19 cases may increase now that masks are no longer required, but this fear is less than when I feared that we would have to wear masks indefinitely. We have had to follow mask protocol for almost two years now, and  we are definitely ready to return back to a life without COVID-19 restrictions. GHC made the right decision, at long last.

Mandating masks is still the safe choice

While masks can be bothersome, they serve a purpose. GHC did not simply mandate mask wearing to annoy the GHC community. The mask requirement was in place to add extra protection from the virus and to ensure students are able to be in class to get a quality education. 

However, it is too soon for the mask mandate to have been lifted.

Just as vaccines act as protection against COVID-19, so too do masks. The COVID-19 vaccines decrease the risk of contracting the virus as well as of getting severe symptoms resulting in hospitalization. 

While they don’t offer a guarantee of not getting infected, they help lower the odds of getting COVID-19. Masks keep the respiratory droplets contained that would otherwise spread without them to other people. COVID-19 is a contagious virus, and contagious viruses spread through bodily fluids, and other human waste. Wearing masks helps lower the chances of being infected.

GHC as well as the CDC still strongly recommend wearing masks in public places, even when it is no longer required. Their exact words in their mask guidance page are that you should “wear a mask in public places where there are a lot of people around.” Our crowded classrooms and hallways definitely count in this case.

The government’s top scientists recommend using masks to better protect ourselves and others. We listened to them about being vaccinated and that has worked at diminishing the odds of becoming sick. So why wouldn’t we continue to listen to them about wearing masks, even when not required?

If the physical discomfort of wearing a mask is the price you pay to prevent you from becoming sick and protect your loved ones, it’s a small price to pay to ensure the health and safety of the GHC community. I for one will still be wearing a mask.

According to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, our seven day average is still over 30,000 people who have tested positive for COVID-19. That’s still a lot of people.

Even if catching COVID-19 does not lead to serious illness, it will result in an extended absence from school which means less learning and more make-up work. Or, if our teachers get it, a substitute teacher for an extended period of time. Wouldn’t it be smart for the school to work to keep this from happening?

We all know that COVID-19 is here to stay. We missed our window for completely eradicating the virus a long time ago. There is no return to normal, we missed our chance, and now we need to deal with the effects. If we want to address our now COVID-19 world we need to be vaccinated, boosted, and masked. Until we come up with a more effective vaccine the masks need to stay on.

Author: Plaid Press

Granada Hills Charter High School newspaper