Mask mandate is lifting march 14

Alexa Ramos and Celeste Casella

Since in-person school started back up in the fall of 2021, students have been required to wear their masks during school hours. Wearing the masks full time at school helps prevent a more significant spread of the virus and any future variants that can come along with it. SJUSD, from the start, has always required students to mask up and comply with the CDC to prevent the spread of COVID. 

In late February, with the advice of California Secretary of Health and Human Services, Dr. Mark Ghaly, California decided to lift all indoor mask mandates and stop requiring masks in schools beginning March 1st and 14th, respectively. 

“This feels like the right time,” Ghaly said to Cal Matters. “I’ve been pleased with how the data has come down, and it is the right time to transition from the requirement to a strong recommendation.”

While the district had the option to keep the mandate, they chose not to. So since March 14th, students, regardless of vaccination status, can go to school without a mask. 

Even though students can now go indoors with no face covering, health officials want everyone to know that new and current variants may still be present. 

Schools are a prominent spot for the virus to spread. With at least 30 kids in each classroom, it is tough to keep everyone distanced realistically. Wearing face coverings has been a great way to ensure everyone’s safety, regardless of vaccination status. 

There are three different COVID-19 community levels, and each level shows a different intensity of concentration of COVID cases. There is Low, Medium, and High. Santa Clara County is currently at a Low level, meaning that people are advised to follow those appropriate guidelines. Subsequently, many U.S. states have been lifting mask mandates since early January, and Californians have been curious if we would be following in those footsteps. 

If your community level is Low, the CDC recommends staying up to date with COVID vaccines and getting tested if you feel symptoms. They also state that wearing a mask at this time is a personal choice that depends on your comfort level in public.

It seems as though many Gunderson students plan to keep their masks on now that the restriction has been lifted. Out of 48 students polled, 44 voted that they are continuing to wear masks. 

“I’ll keep wearing a mask because I work in retail,” Senior Adairiss Castro said. “I’m [also] in contact with many people [who] I don’t know. [Wearing a mask will] keep me and my family safe.” 

Junior Amelie Pak also plans on keeping her mask on.

“The end of the mask mandate is not the end of Covid,” Pak said. “So, to prevent spread and contraction, I’m choosing to keep a mask on.”

Although many plan to stay masked, some people feel comfortable and safe enough to stop wearing them. 

“Due to me being double vaccinated and boosted, I believe I have done everything in my power to prevent COVID,” Senior Nic Seryani said. “As well as it being almost two years now and COVID rates dropping, I believe it’s time for us to follow the rest of the U.S. and the world in finally removing the mask mandate.”

Students will know what’s best for them. For some, it may be wearing a mask, and others feel comfortable enough to discard the mask for the time being. It’s all a personal decision, and everyone can choose for themselves.