Mask Mandate Lifted

Jessica Gunther, Associate Editor

   On March 12th, the mask mandate was lifted in the entire state of Oregon, following the COVID-19 Pandemic.

   The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) first recommended the use of masks on April 3rd of 2020, as supplemental to proper hygiene and social distancing in public spaces. The mandate wasn’t officially put forth until July of that year when masks were required in most establishments. 

   In some areas, masks will still be required, such as in hospitals, airports, and public transportation. There will also be areas in the school where they will be mandatory, such as in the childcare center.

   “When kids are in childcare, students are working with the little preschoolers and toddlers, and they’re still going to have to wear a mask when they’re in the classroom in early childhood,” assistant principal Cheeri Schacht said.

  The initial date for the mandate lift was March 19th, but was changed by the Oregon Health Authority due to “a dramatic drop in hospitalizations and case counts statewide…and the recently updated metrics that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tracks for risk evaluation announced on February 25th.” Parents and staff were kept informed of these changes through emails from the district. 

   Although this decision was made in light of these reasons, in the eyes of many, there’s still the question of whether lifting the mandate is safe or not. 

   “COVID is still happening and there’s still people dying every day,” sophomore Italia Lopez said. “There’s still people who are at high risk going to school or who have families and friends who are at high risk.”

   With that in mind, many have made the decision to keep their masks on while at school and in other public places. Some of these students wished to remain anonymous. 

   “I think we should still continue to wear masks in public settings to protect yourself and others,” a junior said.

   “I think it definitely has its positives and negatives but we need to take other people’s safety into consideration just as much as ourselves,” Lopez said. “I know COVID has caused everyone to lose something at one point in their life and the last thing we need is to go back to where we started.”

   There are still things you can do to protect yourself, although they might prove challenging. 

   “Obviously, social distancing is going to be the best bet. However, we also understand that it’s very difficult to walk down our halls and social distance at the same time,” Schacht said. “I think I would say that if you are really concerned about it that wearing the mask is still going to be something kids can do.”

   In the end, the district has emphasized that the decision of whether or not to wear a mask is completely up to the individual and that they “want to make it clear that [they] support and respect everyone, whether they are wearing a mask or not,” and that “bullying or harassment of any kind will not be tolerated.” This was communicated to parents and students in an email from the district regarding the mandate. 

   “Deciding whether or not to wear a mask is like buying a car,” one student said. “There could be an overwhelming amount of regret or it could be the best decision for you.”