Changing Mask Mandates
Two years of Covid-19 and mask-wearing is a struggle that everyone has been dealing with and wants to put an end to. Could that end be coming sooner than we thought? With Covid-19 case rates gradually declining and the mask mandates changing, people are slowly starting to get a feel for a new, positive reality.
Recently, starting in the beginning weeks of March, schools all over the country have come to the decision to make masks optional, meaning students and staff have the choice on whether or not they would like to wear a mask inside the school.
This recent change has come about due to the CDC’s new update on the community levels of Covid-19. The CDC states that “levels can be low, medium, or high and are determined by looking at hospital beds being used, hospital admissions, and the total number of new COVID-19 cases in an area.”
In Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, the case levels are low, which signifies that as long as individuals are staying up to date with Covid-19 vaccines and are getting tested when symptoms appear, they may choose if they want to wear a mask in public settings. While masks are not required in schools, the Montgomery County Council affirms that “businesses and other organizations can continue to require customers or visitors to wear a mask in their establishments.”
It is not just Pennsylvania schools making this new change, as schools in multiple other states, such as Massachusetts, New York, and New Jersey, are adjusting their mask mandates as well. The ability to be mask optional in students’ learning environments has had a highly positive impact on most individuals. The Washington Post remarked on this, reporting a high school in Massachusetts’s “survey of students found that 70 percent said the policy improved their experience, including their ability to learn.”
However, there is still a percentage of people that are not thrilled about being surrounded by others who are maskless. Some were and still are not fully prepared to adjust to this big change, whether it is for health reasons, caution, or the inability to stray from habit. Along with that, students and staff were abruptly notified of this new change for their schools, some feeling they were not given enough time to ponder what decision to make.
Ultimately, in most schools, there is a variety of people who are and are not wearing a mask. Time will tell what schools will look like being 100% maskless since there are, for the time being, going to be those who are still cautious and wear a mask. It seems that as long as the Covid-19 rates stay low, the move to make masks optional in schools is a step in the right direction.