Lifting the mask mandate is putting us at risk

Ivadette Haziri, Staff Writer

On Jan. 15, 2022, Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin decided to grant parents the option to choose whether to send their children to school with masks or not By signing an executive order on his first day in office, the mask mandate across Virginia for K-12 schools was lifted, and there has been a lot of controversy. 

People across the nation and state have been arguing over mask mandates. In Virginia schools, masks were mandatory because of the previous order signed by ex-governor Ralph Northam, and this helped to keep the number of cases low. While the new order is celebrated by some, others worry it’ll put their family at greater risk. Is this really in the best interest for the health of students and teachers?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention clearly recommends wearing a mask in public indoor settings in areas of substantial or high community transmission, regardless of vaccination status. These masks, which some parents are opposed to, are actually proven to have helped reduce the transmission of COVID-19 by blocking the inhalation of respiratory particles.

Keeping masks mandatory in schools is the safest and most effective way of approaching in-person learning in the midst of a pandemic. Just think about it. How many students attend Jefferson currently? If all of a sudden the masks went away, outbreaks would not be as rare as they are now.

Take into consideration how long some families have been protecting themselves from this virus, whether for themselves or for family members that are at high risk of severe illness or even death. These families have restricted every unnecessary activity, and have only gone out for necessities. All this time of being precautionary and careful will have amounted to nothing if their kid walks into a school crowded with unmasked students. 

Students come from different households, and they meet different people each day outside of school. Infection is more likely if they’ve been exposed to more people, and going to school maskless puts others in danger. COVID-19 is still infecting people even with masks being worn, and going maskless won’t make it any better. In fact, it’ll make it worse.

In order to—at some point—go back to a version of normalcy, we must still protect ourselves and others. Masks might not be the most comfortable, and not going out as often might be frustrating.

In the end, though, we’ll look back and wish we continued to take COVID-19 seriously. Wear a mask and protect yourself and your family, but overall, choose what is going to help us end this pandemic.