Requiring masks in school isn’t a good idea


Kate Tankersley

Students wear masks while working on laptops in Mr. Perkins biology class.

Abby Wallace, Design Editor

The Olathe school board voted 4-2 on students wearing masks to school for the second year in a row on August 5. This is a terrible idea and won’t work for long.

No one likes wearing masks, and people have made those feelings very clear. Looking on social media after the school board made their decision shows how people aren’t willing to do this anymore. Last school year, people just wanted to go back in person no matter what. It showed a step forward from our previous remote learning experience. If students and staff had to wear a mask they would. This year, however, students and staff are all tired of the masks. Everyone just wants a normal school year, and the mask mandate is preventing that. Most students don’t know what their classmates even look like without a mask. It’s keeping kids from having a regular school experience.

Another reason we should have optional masks is that a lot of students don’t wear them correctly anyway. Not wearing a mask the correct way makes them ineffective, so wearing one the way people already are and not wearing them at all is the same thing. If people are that uncomfortable being at school without one then they can keep wearing a mask. These solutions aren’t the easiest, but nothing about this situation is easy.

Although Olathe schools are requiring masks in classrooms with a maximum of 30 students, they aren’t requiring them at football games. If anything, it makes more sense to require them at football games and not classrooms. If students are outside then they don’t have to wear a mask, and at lunch, there are about 700 students per lunch. This makes contact tracing impossible. In a classroom teachers can show a seating chart, but at lunch, a football game, or outside in general it’s nearly impossible to track who was around someone if they did get Covid. 

Of course, I do see where the school board is coming from. The new Delta variant is dangerous, but Covid isn’t going away. It’s like the flu. Schools deal with the flu every year. Kids get a flu shot, miss a couple of days of school, and move on. Now people can get the Covid vaccine, possibly miss a few days, and move on. Not everyone will get the Covid vaccine, but not everyone gets the flu shot either. There’s no reason to keep enforcing a mask mandate for an illness that is now becoming treatable. 

Getting rid of the required masks takes effort from everyone. Students will need to get the vaccine in order for Covid to be treated like the flu. Students who are vaccinated don’t need to be quarantined if they are exposed to Covid which means they won’t miss any school work.  Getting vaccinated is why many other places are able to open up. As more people get vaccinated, the more “normal” life can get.

Plenty of other schools even in Kansas aren’t requiring masks for students. For example, Kansas City Christian doesn’t require students to wear masks. Also, Wichita doesn’t require masks even though the district is bigger than ours. Therefore, it isn’t impossible to have a functioning school with students who choose not to wear masks.

Normal life and a normal school year are all students want. Making masks optional for at least high school students is a way to give teenagers their lives back. Covid has taken so much from kids, so giving them a little sliver of the normal back isn’t impossible. There are ways it can be done. On October 7, the school board will meet again to discuss the mask mandate. This time, all anyone can do is hope they hear everyone out and let the kids learn in a normal environment.