OPINION: Should mask mandates be lowered in schools?

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Ren Sikes | Opinions Editor

As we make it through level three of the COVID-19 pandemic, many states are grappling with the decision of whether or not to keep a mask mandate in schools. 

We are all aware that the University of Dayton currently has a mask mandate set in place, requiring masks in all academic buildings and dining areas, as well as residential building common areas. 

Dayton Public Schools require masks for all staff and students while on Buses and in the classroom. For young children who struggle with wearing masks, occasional breaks are permitted when it is safe to do so. 

Ohio State University has similar mask mandates to UD, with all staff and students required to wear a mask indoors and outdoors when maintaining physical distance is not possible. 

As of right now, the State of Ohio does not have a statewide mask mandate, but there is no legislation banning schools and businesses from requiring masks. Many schools and businesses have opted to require masks in order to combat the spread of COVID-19. 

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy has announced that the mask mandate in schools and other childcare settings will end on March 7. This would mean that new jersey school districts would no longer require masks indoors or outdoors. However, the state legislature is still allowing school districts to put their own mandates in place, should they choose too. 

In the state of Texas, there is no such opportunity. Gov. Abbott has banned all governmental entities from requiring masks indoors. School districts are among those affected by the executive order. 

As someone whose entire college experience has been a pandemic, no one wants to go back to normal than I do. I dream of a time where we can all go to class unmasked and enjoy the true college experience, Covid free. 

That being said, I do not want to lose what we have. Yes, cases are down, vaccination rates are up. Omicron is going back into its hole, and the end is near. However, there is still a possibility that we will back track. I’ve seen it before. 

Back in 2020, when the entire world was shut down, covid cases were down. Everything was fine. Then Gov. Abbott opened Texas back up, and covid cases skyrocketed again. 

The tiniest taste of normal, and we over do it. Not to mention, vaccinations for young children are still being perfected. 

My only concern is that if we start with schools, then we will want to go to businesses, and more and more people will go without masks. 

I want to go back to normal, but I don’t want to mess it up again.

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