One Less task: No need to mask

Evan Wilmoth, Guest News writer

Though this February marked their sixth meeting on the subject, it was by no means routine. Inspired by a recent recommendation from Dr. Christopher Ohl, infectious disease expert of Wake Forest Atrium Health, the board voted 6-2 to transition to mask optional starting Feb. 28. Citing a leveling out of cases, the proliferation of effective treatment, and March marking the end of the infectious disease season, Ohl reasoned that it would be safe for schools in the region to transition to mask optional. WS/FCS superintendent Tricia McManus agreed, recommending a transition on Feb. 28. With all that, the stage was set for the school board to change the mandate.
But the path to actually voting on the mandate was a tortuous one. A precarious resentment wound through much of the meeting, with snickers, boos, overbearing applause, and pointedly demanding speeches filling the room with a chaotic noise. This all came to a head in the middle of one woman’s speech, when a man mounted the stage where the board sat and began to dispense legal papers and threats, shouting, as he was pulled off of the stage by security, “You work for me!”
Students disagree, though without such a militant intensity, about masks and the mask mandate. Some students agree with the repealing of the mask mandate. “How I see it is, it should be optional. If you don’t want to wear a mask, then you don’t have to,” junior Cody Miller said. “Being able to see facial expressions will help a lot,” he added.
“I don’t really care all that much [about the decision to go mask optional], but I know that there’s going to be people who care a lot – in both ways,” junior Hank Ballard said. Other students are showing restraint over removing their masks, like junior Anthony Sanchez Padilla, who said: “I will [be wearing my mask] just because I’m not vaccinated as of right now.” Furthermore, some students are wary of the effects that a mask optional policy will have on those with underlying health conditions.
“My sister, she has special needs and she can die from COVID – and she almost did a month ago. So I’m going to wear my mask so that she doesn’t end up in the hospital again,” freshman Tessa Phillips said.
“People think it’s time [to go mask optional], but you need to consider people with health problems,” freshman A’maya Long said.
The decision to go mask optional came into effect on Feb. 28.