An email was sent out to staff, students, and parents on Feb. 18 announcing a proposal to the Board of Education to switch to a mask recommended status for students and staff starting on Monday, Feb. 28. A second email was sent out on Wednesday, Feb. 23, confirming the change in policy.
“We have teachers that are ready to have the mask off [and] we have teachers that are a little concerned,” president of the LT Education Association Andrew Johannes said. “As a whole, I think most people accept that this is kind of the trend that we’re going [towards]. We’re cautiously optimistic that it’s going to work out.”
The LION staff conducted a small survey of a total of 45 students before school at NC on Wednesday Feb. 23. Twenty-three students said they would continue to wear their masks when the mandate was changed, whereas 22 said they would not.
A possible concern of the mask recommended environment is the potential dangers to those with pre-existing conditions, Johannes said.
“I think LT’s language is going to be very important—their phrasing [of] recommended instead of optional,” English teacher Zainab Salah, who is immunocompromised, said. “It’s more important to bring to light how to protect vulnerable populations without asking all of society to change in your favor.”
When someone is immunocompromised, his or her immune system attacks critical parts of the body, like the liver, and suppresses the ability to function properly, Salah said. This leaves the patient especially vulnerable to sickness. Therefore COVID-19, which targets the immune system, can increase risk for those with pre-existing conditions.
“Anyone who is at risk has kind of already adapted their life to fitting around other people,” Salah said. “My students are very supportive—they said they might mask up just for this class or keep their distance from me.”
Editor’s note: This report includes information through March 2. Reporter Cooper Anderson contributed reporting to this article.