Unrestricted Masks Continue

As students go back to school, there is a wide variety between students wearing masks, and not wearing masks (Design by M Winkel).

As students go back to school, there is a wide variety between students wearing masks, and not wearing masks (Design by M Winkel).

Currently, there is debate on whether or not masks should be mandated in schools. Will the county decide on no masks all year? Will they bring back a mask mandate? All of these debates have implications for not only students, but teachers as well.

“It’s just worrying to know that not everyone else around me is wearing a mask because I know that for me to be fully protected, not only do I have to wear a mask but everyone else does,” Maddox Pirkey, 12, said.

Pirkey wears a mask in order to not only protect herself, but others as well. Although masks make it difficult for many students in their learning environment and in other situations, masks are something that have been thought to possibly prevent the rising COVID-19 cases. Counties are uncertain of whether unrestricted masks would heighten the cases or not.

“I feel like if we did have a mask mandate, we could be in school longer because there’s a lot of people [under quarantine] right now that have COVID-19; so if we have a mask mandate, I think it would be better,” Matalyn Chitwood, 11, said.

As of Sept. 7, the daily average of COVID-19 cases in Johnson County has been 150. While cases are increasing, some believe that it may not be much longer that the district will have mask-free school conditions for grades 9-12. However, cases in USD 230 are averagely less than in nearby districts. 

Another main struggle of students and teachers includes the mask wearing decision-making and worrying about judgement from others regarding their personal choice.

“I think [people] can constantly feel like someone is judging you or has an opinion because of a choice you’ve made, and that’s what’s hard,” Emily Peak, math teacher, said. 

While COVID-19 cases have been increasing, so have absences as well. Many students not being able to attend school could struggle with their academic progression.

“I’ve seen my attendance fluctuate. Ideally, I want a school year where people never have to be out for a mandatory set of days, and so, in my mind, if wearing [a mask] prevents that, I just want my students in the room. I think it gets tough when it comes to chemistry or algebra or an English class and you’re just starting a paper, and you miss the week,” said Peak.

In-person school offers students the option to wear a mask, it also provides many opportunities and exciting things back into the lives of students. High school dances, football games available to the entire public, assemblies, Bronco Hour, and many other school events are returning to their original attainability. There are high hopes from many students and teachers that soon the conditions of the pandemic will improve and bring the lifestyle even closer to normality.

“It’s tough because I think we are all ready for everything to be normal, and I don’t know if that’s realistic now, but we’re just so excited. It just feels like a whole new world,” said Peak.