By: Alayna Smith
As of midnight on March 12 the mask mandate will be lifted for students in schools all across the state of California. While masks will no longer be required experts still ‘highly recommend’ that people continue wearing them as while the number of cases of COVID-19 and its variants is gradually decreasing this does not mean people will not be exposed.
Masks have been mandated in the majority of California schools since the beginning of the pandemic back in 2020 as they have been proven to lower the risk of exposure to the virus. Experts agree that this was a necessary step to keep everyone safe in the beginning, but now many argue that they are no longer needed. Robert Schooley, a professor of medicine at UC San Diego has said that with omicron levels reaching lows we’re, “approaching a point where we can take the masks off.”
The state of California also reports that the number of people who are fully vaccinated is about 74.0% for people ages 5 and up across the state. This indicates that the spread of COVID-19 will be significantly reduced and make for a safer environment, even without masks.
Parents and teachers have been vocal about their feelings about masks in schools since the very beginning as well, with an increasing number advocating against them as cases go down. Some argue that masks disrupt learning and interaction among people, especially children. Others still feel that it is better to be safe than take such a risk when things have been functioning just fine with masks for the past year and a half.
As the pandemic clears up, changes are slowly being made to return to the old sense of normalcy and, while it could be considered risky, the state of California has decided that removing the mask mandate from schools is the next step toward recovery.