Schools should say ‘no’ to anti-maskers

Although+the+district+will+not+enforce+outdoor+mask-wearing+and+physical+distancing+on+campus%2C+implementations+of+safety+protocols+for+the+school+year+should+be+strictly+upheld+because+of+the+new+Delta+strain.

Jacqueline Chang

Although the district will not enforce outdoor mask-wearing and physical distancing on campus, implementations of safety protocols for the school year should be strictly upheld because of the new Delta strain.

Alice Shin

The anti-mask movement has dangerously crept into the meeting rooms of school districts countywide.

Opponents of masks in the classroom are challenging the most recent California Department of Public Health [CDPH] guidelines, which our school district follows, requiring students to wear masks indoors and optional outdoors.

Board members of the Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified District, for instance, unwisely voted 3-2 over the summer to send a formal request to the CDPH to make indoor masking for students and teachers optional, according to an online ocregister.com article. 

The majority caved in to local parents’ concerns, as one unnamed adult was quoted in the story as telling the trustees before their vote: “When did we lose the ability to logically assess risks in our lives. Our kids need to be kids again, not carry this burden.”

The board’s resolution states as its rationale that the virus is less common in children than adults and that “face coverings might adversely affect some children still learning proper pronunciation and grammar and those who benefit from seeing facial expressions,” according to the article.

Another concern regarding the anti-mask movement centers on such recent activist groups as “Let Them Breathe” and “Reopen California Schools,” which according to recent media reports have helped parents opposing the mask mandate express their opinions to school boards, including the Orange and Tustin unified school districts.

On July 22, the two groups filed a lawsuit against the state in hopes to overturn the mask requirement, claiming California’s mandate was detrimental to students’ mental health, academic progress and social development.

Despite anti-maskers’ concerns about children’s self-esteem in the classroom, what outweighs everything else is the risk of contracting the virus regardless of age, especially for unvaccinated individuals. 

Additionally, COVID-19’s Delta strain has been found to be twice as transmissible than the original virus. Finally, a recent Aug. 12 report from the American Academy of Pediatrics determined that the number of reported positive coronavirus cases among children increased by 4%.

It’s clear then that public schools should strictly enforce the indoor mask mandate and even recommend students to keep their masks on outside, except when eating.

Despite the concern for students who benefit from seeing facial expressions, it’s comforting to know that school officials have come up with ways to resolve such an issue. The Fullerton Joint Union High School District, for example, allows the use of face shields for teachers or teacher’s aides depending on a case-by-case basis, such as when students need to see an adult’s facial expressions, principal Allen Whitten said.

Rather than completely opposing the mask mandate and risking the possibility of contracting the virus, these groups need to put children’s health and safety above self-esteem or the right to choose.

Though it is true that masks are not capable of completely preventing someone from getting infected by the virus, they can provide additional protection as the World Health Organization “[encourages] mask-wearing even among vaccinated people.”

To achieve herd immunity, 70% of the population needs to become immune to the coronavirus, according to Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health; until then, it is important that everyone is mindful of each other and that our district doesn’t cave in to anti-maskers’ dogma like some other districts already have in Orange County.

Here’s hoping that mask mandates remain so that sooner rather than later we can attain the life we had prior to the pandemic.

Recently, a new activist group called “Let Them Breathe,” along with “Reopen California Schools,” helped parents opposing the mask mandate express their opinions to school boards including the Orange Unified and Tustin Unified Districts by organizing rallies, according to ocregister.com.

On July 22, the two groups filed a lawsuit in hopes to overturn the mask requirement and claimed that the mandate was detrimental to students’ mental health, academic progress and social development.

Though the groups express their concerns for the students, being in a crowded space, especially without proper face covering, will increase the risk of infection, according to epa.gov, an agency of the federal government to consolidate environmental responsibilities. Because students and teachers stay inside classrooms for the majority of the school day, it is essential that the FJUHSD enforces all individuals to follow every protocol enforced by the school and even take a step further to ensure safety for those around them.

Students and teachers must take responsibility for their actions and be mindful of others’ safety by wearing masks when nearby people — especially because fully vaccinated people can still spread the virus to others, according to cdc.gov.

Though it is true that masks are not capable of completely preventing someone from getting infected by the virus, they can provide additional protection as the World Health Organization “[encourages] mask-wearing even among vaccinated people.”

To achieve herd immunity, 70% of the population needs to become immune to the coronavirus, according to jhsph.edu; until then, it is important that everyone is mindful of each other and that the district continues to enforce mask mandates so that, sooner rather than later, we can attain the life we had prior to the pandemic.