By Logan Forrest
Pictured above: Mask mandate signs posted on Hammond’s front doors.
On Tuesday, September 14th, lawmakers voted in favor of a statewide mandate that requires masks to be worn in schools at all times, except for if outside at sports events or walking. The requirement of face-coverings in Maryland was made to protect the health and safety of teachers, school staff, students, and families.
Masks reduce the risk of transmission of the COVID-19 virus, regardless of if an individual is vaccinated or not. Folks who aren’t vaccinated are especially encouraged to wear a mask in public places.
There has been a lot of debate lately about mask-wearing, and it has become a heavy political topic between the left and right. From a political standpoint, Democrats tend to be more inclined to accept the mask mandate. Many Republicans feel that it is an infringement on their personal freedom, even though they know of the risks of not wearing a mask, especially when unvaccinated.
In Howard County schools, staff and students hold their own opinions on the material around our mouths and noses.
“I think the mask mandate is needed and important [in order] to prevent the spread of COVID-19…It’s for the greater good and the right thing to do to keep people as safe as possible. Science is important to follow. I feel positively about the mask mandate…[It] ensures that people have to follow safety rules…By wearing a mask, you keep others safe…,” commented 9th grade School Counselor, Mr. Kosisky.
“I would be concerned if we didn’t wear masks all day, especially in the crowded hallways and being around multiple students and staff at one time. That would be too risky,” he continued.
Junior Jada Fowler commented, “I feel that [the mask mandate] helps keep us safe and more people should wear a mask so we can get back to normal life faster. I wouldn’t feel safe not wearing masks because you never know who has COVID: they could be asymptomatic or they could lie and say they don’t have it.”
10th-12th grade School Counselor Ms. Shomali added, “I don’t like it, but I think it’s best to be safe.”
She added that she would not feel safe if not wearing a mask all day, especially considering the studies proving that masks help with staying protected from the virus.
When asked about students having had the option to stay virtual this school year, Mr. Kosisky further commented, “I do think the option for virtual [learning] should have been given to students and families, as many students might not be able to be vaccinated and therefore do not feel safe about being in the building around many other people at one time. Students can…go home and [potentially] transmit the virus to family members as well.”
Ms. Shomali commented, “If it’s best for students to remain virtual, then…in theory [it should be an option]. The county tried to do that but there wasn’t enough money to set up a virtual school for high school.”
Before the school year started, the county had a meeting discussing a virtual high school. However, when the mask mandate was made, that idea was immediately scrapped.