Student Opinions on the New Mask Policies


Evan Mills , Staff Writer

As we return to a sense of full normalcy in the country, the school mask mandates have finally been lifted. Since the CDC lifted the mask recommendations on February 25, states around the country including California, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and recently Maine, have finally let the students learn in a normal environment with very relaxed COVID policies. As one could imagine, there is lots of division on this issue between students, parents, teachers, and local and state governments. Overall, it seems like many people are very happy with this new change but some students and others are still skeptical about this sudden decision. 

I was able to interview a few students here at KHS about whether or not they were in favor of the new change to mask policy and the response was in the majority that they liked the easing of restrictions. One student said, “I feel like it’s a good thing because everyone has been wearing them for so long and almost everyone is [vaccinated] against [COVID-19]”. Many students seem exhausted with having to wear masks because it is the only place (besides public transportation) that they are required to wear them. Why have schools still been requiring masks even though restaurants have had no COVID restrictions since May 24th, 2021, especially when people under the age of 18 are the least affected, with a 99.9% survival rate against the virus? Another student said, “I think it’s a pretty good thing because it’s a step in the right direction…Because even if you want to still wear a mask we’ve got to start making progress at some point”. Many others agree with this perspective as this change has been needed for a very long time and is a step in the right direction, turning COVID into a case of personal responsibility instead of government mandates. 

However, there are still some students that feel the need to wear masks for reasons that include their personal safety; safety for loved ones that may be susceptible to the virus; or fears of how the virus might spread. In every aspect, everyone’s right to choose on both sides should be respected and no one should be judged for their decision. I feel as if this will be the biggest issue with this new change in place. One student I interviewed said, “I don’t know what my decision will be because I don’t want to be judged for my choice”. One student’s opinion should not dictate another’s freedom to choose whether they wear a mask, plain and simple. We need to be able to respect others’ choices when it comes to this issue in particular. 

This decision by RSU 21 and by school boards all across the country is a great step in the right direction in the sense of going back to the way things were before 2020. In our community, Kennebunk has a 90% vaccination rate while Kennebunkport and Arundel have an 81% vaccination rate. According to the CDC, only 63% of the U.S. is vaccinated so overall we are about 19-27% higher than the average percentage of vaccinated citizens. As of September of 2021, KHS has a 96% vaccination rate among staff which is the most affected group. As a school, this change probably could’ve come even sooner than it did. Restaurants and places of business were able to ease mask policies while schools were not. This is ironic because schools see the same people every day, and these businesses saw new people come through their doors every day. 

Rather than discussing what could’ve been done differently, we need to start looking at our future. In my opinion, this means treating it as any other coronavirus. Countries like England and Belgium have recently dropped all government mandates surrounding COVID-19 and have begun making it a matter of personal responsibility instead of making the government force you to take precautions, (which is a bit ironic for England to say). This means that it lets people who want to go back to normal, do so,  and it lets the people that are still nervous keep taking the precautions they see as necessary to their own health. Most coronaviruses, like the flu, constantly mutate in the way they function, so it is impossible to completely stop the virus from spreading. To go back to full functionality as a society, I believe we need to put this pandemic behind us and start looking at issues to help this country get back to where it was before anyone even knew what COVID was.