Should LT reverse its position on optional mask wearing?

LION staffers debate whether the school should reverse the mask-recommended policy and go back to mask-required.

March 24, 2022

Keep masks mandatory

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. 

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Take your mask off, let freedom begin

The LTHS population is widely aware of the current mask optional mandate that was put in place on Feb. 28. For some demographics, this means an end to the tyranny of masks. But for others, it means that the lunch table chatter is full of remarks such as: “just wear your mask; it keeps people safe,” and quoting the infamous tweet by @JLBarrow, How privileged is your life, where wearing a mask is the most oppressed you’ve ever felt?” 

These quotes further uphold the mask mandate, whether or not the administration says students have to wear a mask or not. For most demographics at LT, if masking isn’t policy mandated, it’s socially mandated, leaving the talk about whether or not one should wear a mask louder than ever. This policy does not only affect our immediate school community, but the whole country. 

Since the 1940s, studies have been conducted about the efficiency of masks, with results showing that they are ineffective in preventing respiratory infections. Over the last 15 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Archives in April 2020, the eight randomized, controlled studies of masks among healthcare professionals have all found that masks are inefficient at blocking repository infections for various reasons. This makes an argument for wearing a mask hard to find, but keeping up with morals and the truth has never stopped Pfizer. 

If one were to look at more recent studies done by the CDC, they would see the studies claim that masks do work. Conversely, when later looking at scientific reviews of those studies, people would see most scientists find holes in them. If people look at the universities where those studies have been conducted, they would find that these institutions have partnerships with Pfizer: a company that has prioritized money over the general health of Americans through its patenting of the COVID-19 vaccine. 

Of course this company would promote masking, which contributes to health problems in America. This masking could potentially create more problems in the future, such as potential cardiovascular issues or therapy for children who can’t read facial expressions. As a biopharmaceutical company, they would be able to capitalize on these issues and sell medication to those that are unwell as a result of wearing a mask. 

It is perfectly reasonable to be skeptical of a newly implemented mandate. It’s impossible to know what problems these masks may have caused, as we have no possible way of researching the long term effects.

Yet, you’re disgraced from society just for being a little bit curious; you can’t even have a small inquisition over what the government asks of you. We should be able to think for ourselves and trust our instincts, rather than just listen to what we’re blindly told. Then, if you can’t ask simple questions about masking, there are so many possibilities as to what will not be allowed to ask next.

According to the Daily Mail, as we grow older, we develop the ability to read people’s faces and react accordingly. If children, in their most developmental years, aren’t able to build this skill, they’re left socially awkward and unable to create genuine human experiences and connections. There are emotions we show on our faces that we can never express through words. With this cognitive dissonance, children will never be able to look into another person’s face and feel the same passionate emotions older people have learned to feel at that age. If we care about our children, we must not return to the mask mandate, so they can learn to read faces and express emotions accordingly. 

LT is helping the situation through removing the mask mandate. They can end the tyranny of big pharma and help our youth to understand each other. We can help the world, one visible smile at a time.

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