As we continue to live in a period of not knowing what happens next, many students in Connecticut have made a return to full-time, in-person learning. Due to still living in a time of COVID-19, school districts across the country have had to reach the perfect way to balance public health, ideal learning conditions, and human desires.
This is not an easy decision. The majority of school districts have began following a mask mandate within schools. This has faced a lot of backlash from parents, students, and even some teachers. Even those who are vaccinated are required to wear masks at all times except for when eating or drinking at Windsor High School. The consensus about this decision seems to be that the student body doesn’t love it. The question is: what would the ideal policy be, taking into account the tree main factors mentioned earlier.
Personally, I have no opposition to the mask mandates within our school district, and recognize that this is in place to protect everyone around us. Arthur G Steinberg as published in the Philadelphia Inquirer in an article entitled “Should Pa. End School Mask Mandates,” agrees that the mask mandate is beneficial to students and communities as a whole.
Steinberg vocalizes this by claiming that “being prepared is better than being flat footed.” In this, he is saying that being overly prepared is better than being caught in a situation that you can’t get out of. I understand that this is mostly what turns people away from wanting mask mandates- it makes it seem like they are unnecessary. However, I would disagree with both of these statements. Statistic for the most part have shown that the states that have the best resources to prevent COVID (masks, vaccines, tests) have a lower positive rate as well as death rate.
Overall, the idea for those who support the mask mandate is that, in the words of Arthur Steinberg is that “it is too soon to say we have won and quit doing the thing that are keeping us safe.” As somebody who has lost people close to me due to COVID, I would argue that this is exactly the case; that we shouldn’t get hung up on freedom to the point that we cause any more loss that has already occurred.
Meanwhile, those arguing against the current mask mandates are advocating for the freedom of individual choice for both people and districts. In the same Philadelphia Inquirer article, Chadwick Scheene takes the view opposing that of Arthur Steinberg. This writer point out the Thomas Jefferson quote of “the government closest to the people serves the people best.” This quote supports the advocating of individual choice within districts, an idea that sounds good on paper to most.
The idea is that people will be able to make the decision for themselves as to what protection is necessary for them. This sounds like an ideal situation- people get to do what makes them feel comfortable, still reducing COVID cases some amount. However, in my mind and the minds of many others, is that this feels scarily similar to survival of the fittest. When protection against COVID aren’t mandated or controlled to any degree, more people will get the virus, including more of those who take every possible effort to protect themselves, all because of the hasty actions of others.
I hate the idea of being completely dictated just as much as anybody else, I wish just as much to return to some level of normalcy. However, I believe that we should all avoid rushed decisions. Throughout the pandemic, we have spread the message that “we’re all in this together,” if that’s true, we have to make an effort to protect one another as much as possible.