Mask Mandate Update | Ariana Thompson
As you probably know, after March 11, California plans to lift its mask mandate in public schools. This decision comes as another step towards fully lifting all quarantine restrictions in the state, following such policies as lifting requirements to visit hospitals or nursing homes and the controversial policy of dropping the mandate for unmasked vaccinated people in most other public areas.
This begs the question: why did we wait so long for schools? If all other public spaces became mask free by February, then what makes education so different? This comes down to two reasons: namely, that children haven’t been able to receive the vaccine at the rate of their parents, with just 28% of California’s 5-11-year-olds fully vaccinated, according to the Washington Post. Additionally, the nature of school means that children will spend most of their day in a classroom – giving them more of a chance to be exposed to the virus.
However, as Covid cases continue to drop and vaccination for children becomes increasingly available, the California government has fewer and fewer reasons to postpone lifting the mandate in public schools. And on March 1, they made the announcement; not only California, but Oregon and Washington as well, would all drop the mask order in schools by the 12th.
There has been some pushback against the new policy; teacher’s unions especially wish to keep the mandate in place in order to protect educators. Officials also remain concerned. Andrew Noymer, a public health professor at the University of California, Irvine, says “I can only say that the COVID rates are too high now… But I’m not in favor of a future in which kids always go to school with masks.”
However, some believe that this decision didn’t go far enough. Megan Bacigalupi, executive director of CA Parent Power has this to say, "California has treated children in a way that doesn’t correspond to their low risk of serious outcomes from COVID-19…Once the mandate is lifted, it is incumbent upon local districts to heed the guidance from CDPH and allow their students to unmask on March 11." A lot of parents who have disagreed with the mandate have cited the negative effects masks seem to have on children’s social and emotional development, which are very legitimate concerns.
As for our school, there seems to be some anticipation for the upcoming removal, though it remains up in the air whether we’ll continue to wear our masks or not. The common consensus seems to be that while we might go bare-faced for some classes, there are others where students might want to remain masked up.
There is some indication that we may largely keep on wearing masks - in comparison to other schools in our district, CCA students tend to most consistently keep their mask on indoors, and even outside. CCA also has one of the lowest rates of infection in the district.
As of right now, though, no formal concession has been made by the student body. While there are some people passionately for and against this decision, it seems that the majority of the school is waiting on March 12 to decide (and take a look at what everyone else is doing) For now, it seems, we’ll have to wait and see where popular decision abides.