Masks: An Outbreak of Opinions

The Debate of Masks in Schools

Nia Wiggins, 12, shows the danger of eating in the cafeteria so close to other unmasked peers. It would be beneficial to find a way for us to eat outside. Wiggins said.

Leah Hallwirth

Nia Wiggins, 12, shows the danger of eating in the cafeteria so close to other unmasked peers. “It would be beneficial to find a way for us to eat outside.” Wiggins said.

Leah Hallwirth, Journalist

Correction: In the article, it states that Jessica Black is a CPS parent and after further investigation, our staff discovered her student is currently homeschooled.

The global pandemic sweeping the globe is affecting school-age students greatly in all aspects but for some, it is one, in particular, masks. While some students have taken a sizable stance on this issue, it is mostly parents of the Chesapeake Public School’s children who worry about masks in their children’s schools. 

“I’m very glad that masks are required because of the science that has shown that it reduces transmission. With more students there is an increased risk of transmission and all parties wearing masks will help reduce that spread which means more in-person learning for students” Samantha Lester, a CPS parent, said.

Although there are several people that support the wearing of masks in schools, there have also been many that do not agree with the mandates and they are not shy to speak their opinion.

CPS School Board Meeting: September 27th 2021

In the above link Jessica Black discusses her views on mandatory masks within schools beginning at 23:23.

“People are going to baseball games, out to eat, and congregating to watch football games unmasked but our kids have to be masked at school,” Jessica Black, CPS parent, said.

There is a drawn-out debate among citizens about the requirement of masks in schools. Many choose to take sides in the requirement of masks but there are some students at Western Branch who are able to boil it down to one simple thing.

“Keeping others safe, I mean there’s nothing much to it, right?” Jason Li, 12, said.

Many parents and students consider masks a way to keep themselves and others safe. According to the CDC, “Masks are a simple barrier to help prevent your respiratory droplets from reaching others. Studies show that masks reduce the spray of droplets when worn over the nose and mouth.”

“My kids are somewhat safe wearing masks at school because everyone is wearing a mask,” Lester said.

While everyone in the school may be required to wear a mask, they also must be wearing them properly to protect everyone. Students get a first-hand look at how masks are truly being worn in schools.

“Most students, yeah, but there’s the occasional one or two that don’t listen,” Trinity Blanchard, 9, said.

Many students have found a reason that wearing masks in school is keeping them safer. There have been many covid outbreaks within different schools but masks have been able to keep students safe.

“Some people around me have been tested positive but they were behind me so it kind of didn’t affect me,” Kaylee Atkins, 12, said.

Another student, Nia Wiggins, had a similar experience at school that showed how masks were keeping her safe from covid. 

“There was recently an outbreak amongst people taking a lot of twelfth grade classes and I think the masks were able to stop the spread but there was definitely contact that could have been prevented,” Nia Wiggins, 12, said.

While the students of Western Branch High school have experienced many benefits from wearing masks they have also had struggles. 

“The only struggle I have is that it hurts my ears after long hours but otherwise it’s doable,” Li said.

One topic that many parents and students have been concerned about is lunch in the cafeteria. This is the time when a large amount of the school converges in one place and is allowed to take off their masks.

“It’s really alarming, like the first couple of weeks I was worried but now I just don’t think about it as much,” Wiggins said.

Parents and students all have input on what Chesapeake Public Schools could be doing better when it comes to the pandemic. Some want masks to be taken away altogether while others want strict rules on how masks are being handled within the schools.

“I think Chesapeake Public Schools could be doing more to make our schools safer,” Lester said. “Namely more uniformity in the policies and the enforcement of cafeteria rules and a voluntary on-campus covid testing program to make testing more accessible.”

Some offer more simple options on how the school could improve the way they are handling the covid pandemic.

“I think currently it’s handling it pretty well but I think we should keep being on each other about keeping our masks up and being consistent with that,” Blanchard said.

While there are many who give the school options of ways they can improve, there are some who believe that there is no good way for the school to improve social distancing.

“You can’t, it’s inevitable, there’s too many people here. In bell changes there’s barely a point in masks because eventually you go down one of the main halls and you’re just going to get crowded together anyways,” Li said.

With the many views of the students and parents of the Chesapeake Public School system, it is still important to know the facts and get informed. 

“Ignorance in this case is not bliss, it is just dangerous,” Lester said.