Are Students Behind the Lift in Mask Requirements?

Maya Betti and Shivam Vashishtha, Features, Debates and Online Editor

After Mounds View’s announcement to lift mask requirements, numerous opinions have surfaced. Students and staff at Mounds View have been required to wear a mask for almost two years, a continuity that some say should continue to be enforced. However, as statistics show a definitive decrease in COVID-19 cases throughout the district, others argue it is time to retire the mandate. As the policy has just become effective, many students begin to prepare for changes and make adjustments to their daily lives.

Students have differing perspectives on this decision. “On one side, this pandemic has to end at some point,” said Connor Pederson, 12. “But on the other side, I’m not confident that the student body is mature enough to handle the situation.” Abrupt announcement or not, dealing with such a monumental change is hard to prepare for. 

As the news continued to spread, people questioned whether they themselves would have responded in a similar way if they had the power to determine the fate of the mandate. “I would not have. [Wearing masks] can be annoying, especially for so many hours, but it overall increases safety, especially when there isn’t a lot of social distancing present at Mounds View,” said Eva Marxs, 12. Marxs’ comment falls in association with numerous complaints by students and staff of peers failing to comply with COVID regulations. 

However, recent evidence points to this being a possibly sound decision. “It’s good timing,” said Alex Hinseth, COVID-19 Coordinator and Administrative Intern. “I think in this whole pandemic, we’ve had to weigh risks versus rewards, and there are a lot of factors that play into decisions such as these. The COVID numbers are way down, vaccinations/boosters have been out and available, and the vast majority of teachers and students have been vaccinated. So now, I think, is the time to move to the next step.”

Masks have put undeniable boundaries on social interactions. “It will be nice to see people’s facial expressions, because up until this time, we weren’t able to see people’s reactions/emotions,” said Ali Abu-Atieh, 12. Little pieces of normalcy hold great meaning to some people.

People are viewing this decision from different perspectives. Spring break, coming in a few weeks, is playing quite a role in people forming their opinions. “I think that this decision is being taken at a good timing before spring break, because then we don’t have the added variable of people coming in from various places and exposing others,” said Hinseth. “I think it would be great to see the numbers before Spring Break rather than after it.”

Students also held strong outlooks regarding the reasoning for the timeliness of these decisions. “At this point, I don’t think so,” said Pederson. “With spring break coming up, I would definitely not make this decision, because it’s just not the right time.”

Students and staff are in the early days  of decision making  on whether to wear a mask or not.. The Mounds View administration supports and respects both choices, “I would encourage students to be open-minded, and not judge others on whether they choose to wear masks or not. It goes equally both ways,” said Hinseth. The impacts of this announcement are yet to be seen, but it is the first step toward a sense of normalcy, for better or worse.