Should We Mandate Masks?

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Chloe Mann, Staff Writer

Should We Mandate Masks?

This week and the last, more and more people are being quarantined and testing positive for COVID-19. According to Panhandle Public Health District, “Panhandle risk dial moves further into orange: high risk of COVID spread; Panhandle total: 1,396; Active: 375; Recovered: 1,010; Deaths: 11.” Many sports teams have pulled out of facing the Alliance Bulldogs because of the rising numbers and our hesitance to mandate masks. Last week I sent out a poll to the students and staff asking if we should mandate masks, and the results show that the school should be paying more attention to the needs and wants of the students.

The students of AHS were sent a poll asking how they felt about mandating masks. 134 students responded. Out of the 134, 54 (40.3%) students said that they don’t agree with mandating masks, and 80 (59.7%) said that they agree with mandating masks. One student said, “We are all old enough by now to choose for ourselves if we want to take the precaution of wearing a mask to protect from COVID. I don’t think we should be pushed around and forced to wear a mask because all other aspects of our health are up to us.” Students who said they didn’t agree with the mandate answers ranged from they were uncomfortable, hard to breathe in or don’t want to feel like they are being controlled.

One student who agrees with the mandate says, “Not wearing masks affect the community in many ways. Students shouldn’t have to come to school every day worried about whether or not they will be sent home for something that is beyond their control. Not wearing masks have affected activities here and will in the future if nothing is changed, and if you asked me, it is unfair to the students and seniors as well that their beloved activities are being taken away.” and another said, “ It not only helps prevent the spread of COVID-19 but it also keeps students from getting quarantined. As a student who has done remote learning, it has severely affected my grades to this day. It makes it harder to learn and teachers harder to teach. It would benefit everyone academically and health-wise to mandate masks.” Other answers ranged from they feel quarantine is difficult, they want school to continue or they don’t want to miss out on sports and other activities. 

The AHS teachers were sent the same poll. Twenty total teachers responded and out of the twenty, sixteen agreed with the mandate, and only four disagreed. One of the teachers who disagreed said, “No government entity should be able to make mandates on anything. It is the people’s job to govern themselves. The government’s job is to protect the freedom of its constituents, not enforce more mandates. Never in history has more government power been a good thing.” So again, people are worried about being controlled by the mandates.

One of the AHS teachers that agreed with the mandate said, “The science is clearly supporting the use of masks and social distancing as the methods that will slow down the spread of COVID-19. The myth that there is an unhealthy level of CO2 build-up is wrong. Just how would doctors and nurses ever be able to do surgeries safely if that was true. Those with asthma and respiratory problems are at an even greater risk for developing complications, so would benefit more, not less from masks. There are a variety of patterns that are all effective, some giving a greater breathing bubble/space within the mask. If all in school did wear masks, only those who test positive would need to stay home, not all the close contacts too.” The teachers are also worried about school closing, as well as students missing out on other activities.

Hopefully, we can all come to a peaceful decision and keep our school open as long as we possibly can. Even if we have to wear a mask, it will be worth it to experience another full year of high school.