It has almost been two years since COVID-19 originally made an impact on the world and ever since then masks have become extremely common to see.
Whether you are shopping at your local grocery store or ordering food at a restaurant, you will always see someone wearing a mask. One of the most common places you see masks today is in public schools.
Masks have also brought with them a huge debate on whether or not they are even effective. Public schools continue to require everyone in the building to wear a mask to protect students and staff. It has been proven that masks reduce the spread of droplets from one person to another, which decreases the spread of COVID. However, an opposite opinion is becoming more popular.
Many people believe that students wearing masks in school disrupts their learning experience and all they are is a distraction. The chances of dying from the coronavirus are also extremely slim, which strengthens the argument against masks. I will be diving into both sides of the discussion and trying to figure out how much longer we will be wearing masks.
Ever since the COVID vaccine was available, fully vaccinated Americans have been free to go places without masks. However, a highly transmissible delta variant of COVID-19 is on the rise and it’s recommended that even fully vaccinated citizens should wear masks in indoor areas.
When the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention first announced fully vaccinated people could go without masks, the delta variant represented only 1% of COVID-19 infections. Now it is reported that the vast majority of COVID-19 cases were caused by the delta variant. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, has declared that this particular variant has the ability to spread quicker than other variants.
“This virus is clearly different than the viruses and variants that we’ve had experience with before. It has an extraordinary capability of transmitting from person to person”.
With this in mind counties in California, Massachusetts and Nevada advised its residents to resume wearing masks regardless of vaccination status. This along with the new omicron variant have produced a lot of unknowns about our future.
Even though they can be annoying sometimes, masks are a safe and effective way to protect yourself and others from getting this rapidly spreading disease. On the other hand, the benefits of masks in preventing serious illness or death from COVID among children is extremely small.
Even though masks decrease the chance that you will get the disease, the chances that anyone under the age of 18 receiving severe health problems are minimal to none. The survival rate among American children with Covid-19 is extremely high and the real problem is if children can properly socialize. It has been proven that the survival rate for American children who were confirmed to have COVID-19 is approximately 99.99%. On top of that, students in school are not always going to have their masks on.
Masks may seem tolerable looking in from the outside, but that is not the case in school. Being a fellow student, many if not all of my classmates are guilty of dropping our masks below our mouths and noses from time to time. Also at lunch, all students are allowed to take off their masks and eat their food. Since we are with each other all day and often interact with one another without a mask on, if anyone were to actually have COVID and come into school, there is no stopping it from spreading.
Face masks are also disruptive to learning and communication in the classroom. Covering the lower half of both the teacher and the students face makes it more challenging for students to absorb the information.
More importantly younger students lose the experience of communicating without the masks off. Important life skills like non verbal communication and reading individuals emotions can be extremely difficult. Positive emotions like laughing or smiling can often become less recognizable since peoples mouths are covered and negative emotions get amplified. This makes bonding between the students as well as bonding with the teacher way tougher. Overall, it is likely that wearing face masks during school at a young age could potentially affect a child’s social skills and possibly cause anxiety and depression.
After diving into both sides of the issue, the question on everyone’s mind is when will we be able to go to school without masks? Honestly, I am not sure we will have an answer anytime soon.
In early summer it was widely believed, at least by students, that this school year would be mask free. Once August came around it was announced that masks would be required in school, but only for a short period of time. It’s now nearly the new year and we are still required to wear masks everyday.
In order for the mask mandate to be lifted, the school must demonstrate a vaccination rate of 80% between both students and staff. There has been a lot of time to get a COVID vaccine, so it doesn’t seem Sutton will reach the 80% vaccination rate. The only thing we do know is that the Massachusetts mask mandate for schools had been pushed back to January 2022, but even with a set date students and teachers are not sure what to believe.
However, a new generation of COVID-19 vaccinations will soon be available, and they will be crucial to our future. These treatments have the potential to substantially reduce hospitalization and death, and are likely to be effective against the Omicron variant. Simply put, It is a five day pill regimen that can turn COVID-19 into an ordinary disease like a common cold or the flu, rather than one that kills about 1,000 Americans a day.
Two treatments are on the way, one from Pfizer and one from Merck, and they both will have medical and psychological benefits. These treatments will not only reduce illness, but reduce the fear COVID and help society go back to normal. Pfizer’s variant of the treatment will likely be available early next year, so only time will tell how effective they truly are.
With new variants of the coronavirus being discovered, it’s really difficult to say when the masks will no longer be mandatory in schools. The threat of the coronavirus does not seem to be going away, which might ultimately mean masks won’t either. It is definitely nice knowing that the chances of me contracting COVID is low due to masks and the vaccine, but it sure would be nice to go back to the way things were.