Mask Up: The mask mandate should be reinstated


Maddie Whisenant, Opinion Writer

The relief you feel when yanking off a mask after wearing it all day is amazing, but we should not be too hasty in our imprudence. The WS/FCS School Board decided that, starting Feb. 28, the mask mandate would be lifted and masks will be optional in WS/FCS schools. However, this decision has some flaws. There are some advantages to wearing masks that students shouldn’t want to let go of.
Masks provide protection from other viruses and illnesses other than COVID and in turn, prevent us from spreading bacteria to others. Every year before COVID, I would catch a cold and agonize over a stuffy nose for days. Since we started wearing masks, I have had the luxury of not getting sick too badly. Wearing masks can help decrease the spread and number of respiratory illnesses such as respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and the flu, according to Mayo Clinic.
Making masks optional is risky, especially in a school containing around 2,300 students. During class changes, the halls get crowded very quickly and students are forced to be in close contact with each other. This is already a problem while wearing masks, and without them it would be even worse as the hallways are areas of high transmission.
Contrary to what some think, the Coronavirus vaccines are not 100 percent effective. Even if someone is vaccinated, they can still get the virus and spread it. Though the symptoms of COVID 19 are milder when spread to a vaccinated person, there are still long term effects of the virus. There are some people that are still not vaccinated as 59.5 percent of the total population in North Carolina are fully vaccinated.
While coronavirus cases have decreased significantly and people are becoming more confident with not wearing masks, North Carolina remains in the red zone because of omicron and the US transmission rate is still high as of March 8, according to the CDC. It is too early to lift the mask mandate, unless we want cases to spike again. Many people are still not vaccinated, which leaves people even more vulnerable when students are not wearing masks. Those who are wearing masks should not be judged or discriminated against for their decision to still protect themselves and others as we don’t know what their story is.