Is Wearing a Mask in School Worth Flipping Out Over? (Opinion)
The arguing has already begun over students in New York being required to wear masks to school, whether or not they are vaccinated. Thanks for nothing, Governor Cuomo!
It would have been nice if the governor had allowed the Department of Health to at least issue guidance on the issue, so the schools had a standard to fall back on. Instead, each school is left to translate the CDC guidance without any support from the State, like last year.
Last week, the CDC recommended students should return to in-person learning in September with masks on, whether or not they're vaccinated. This should include students, faculty, staff and visitors.
CDC recommends universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students, and visitors to K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status. Children should return to full-time in-person learning in the fall with layered prevention strategies in place.-CDC
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy took a stance in order to take some of the pressure off school districts. The Governor's executive order mandates masks for everyone, whether or not they're vaccinated, just as suggested by the CDC. However, in New York the lack of guidance leaves districts to make that decision on their own and different rules in neighboring districts is likely to cause confusion and angst.
Peter Blake, Superintendent of Schools at the Rome City School District, says he wishes the state would have offered guidance so they had a standard to base their policy on. "We'll be prepared," he told WIBX's Keeler Show on Monday, but guidance from the state would have helped a great deal. Blake said the district is in the process of forming their policy for the upcoming school year which will most likely mean "in-person learning" with a remote option for students with health risks.
This is not going to be easy for schools. Most of the students will not be vaccinated and with the variant lingering in the communities and positive cases on the rise, it's expected that schools will have to be prepared to react to outbreaks through the school year.
Wearing a mask is not enjoyable. Most of the teachers and staff despise it just as much as the students do. But, it's far better than forcing the schools to close and turn to another year of remote learning. It's also important to note that wearing masks is not dangerous, even to children, despite what you might read on social media. I would think that if this is what it takes to keep schools open, then so be it.
Whether or not you agree with mask mandates, I expect we'll all be patient and understanding and try to get through it, just as we all did last year. Kids beginning the year "in-person" will be a tremendous boost for their education. Parents, faculty and community members supporting the schools safety policies and setting that example for their kids will make things run much smoother. Let's be honest, at this point we have to pick our battles, and the policy of masks being mandated is not worth flipping out over.
Good luck everybody.
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