Keep masks mandatory

Myrna Cross, Reporter

For many, LT’s decision to remove the mask mandate and turn into a mask-recommended environment is a terrifying change. On Feb. 18, an email from Superintendent Brian Waterman was sent out to the LT community, declaring that, due to recent court events and the decline in transmission within the school, the mask mandate would be lifted on Feb. 28. 

Despite the decline in COVID-19 cases within the community, lifting the mask mandate is a bad idea for many reasons. Wearing a mask indoors is not only to keep yourself safe, but also shows respect for the safety and health of those around you. 

A good portion of the LT community are either immunocompromised or have loved ones that are at very high risk of contracting COVID-19. While the infection of this virus might not seem like a big deal to young students, who would not be greatly affected, it could be detrimental for some staff and students. There are multiple staff and students who have lost or almost lost a loved one to COVID-19. For high risk individuals, the chances of contracting the virus is a very real and prominent issue that affects their everyday lives. 

Some may argue that if a student is immunocompromised or not comfortable with being indoors with unmasked individuals, they should’ve stayed home and utilized the online school option. Is it fair to compromise the education of certain students just because we are tired of having to wear masks? 

Besides general discomfort, there is no reason for students to take off their masks at school. There are no negative health effects on children wearing masks, but there are multiple positives in keeping masks mandatory at LT. Not only will it prevent the spread of COVID-19, but will also prevent the transmission of other infections and illnesses, making LT a safer and healthier environment. 

According to the New York Times, as of early March there have been 6 million deaths due to COVID-19 worldwide, 957,000 in the United States and 37,108 in Illinois alone. Wearing a mask is such a simple way to show respect for those we have lost and their family members, along with preventing any more deaths. 

Lifting the mandate has a very good chance of making cases skyrocket again, and could even be a potential cause for having to turn back to remote learning. While some believe that masks are ineffective, in a nationwide analysis of data done by the CDC, U.S. counties without mask requirements in school experienced bigger increases in pediatric COVID-19 cases after the start of school than counties with mask requirements. 

I’m well aware that for the past two years, masks have been an annoying and bothersome part of our everyday lives. Everyone is tired of wearing them and not being able to fully communicate with those around them. However, for so many people, the fear of contracting or spreading the disease is a much more prominent issue than a piece of cloth on your face. Out of respect for the education of all students and to our community in general, the mask mandate should not be lifted and students should continue to wear masks.