Over the past two years, we have gotten used to seeing our peers’ eyes only. In our day-to-day life, when interacting with people, the new norm had become judging an expression from how squinted their eyes were, or how their eyebrows moved. Yet, with this necessary change for the protection of our health, had come controversy. Now as cases appear to simmer down, and people are quite frankly becoming tired of wearing masks – despite their proven benefits, some masks mandates are starting to crumble.
Many schools, including our own, recently announced that masks will now be optional for after-school events, but still mandatory during the day. Here is the thing, I am all for a return to the way daily life had been prior to the pandemic, but I believe that if we rush to lift mask mandates too early, then there will possibly be another potential surge in cases, and that return to normality could be pushed even further into the future. Despite the high number of cases and deaths that sit heavily in the corners of the majority of news channels on TV, I do believe that now is a good time for the mask optional – but only for after-school events. Being that these events are typically optional to attend, I do see it working out for the most part.
Many people consider the argument that fewer and fewer COVID cases are leading to hospitalizations and deaths compared to the pre-vaccine times in 2020 and early 2021. Mass immunity has been seen as a possible solution to the virus, instead of stopping the spread of it in the first place. However, this is just true for the Omicron variant, and who’s to say that with the abrupt cutting of mask mandates that a new – and more deadly – variant can come along. Yet, cases in schools do appear to be dissolving, as classrooms are visibly returning back to their usual full state. In Abcnews articles Dr. Mercedes Carnethon, vice-chair of the department of preventive medicine stated, “It is not safe at this time for schools to rescind mask mandates [because] even though we do have decent levels of vaccination in the older age groups, as populations get younger, the proportion who are vaccinated gets lower.” However, wishfully speaking, hopefully, the required amount of students in these age groups will get vaccinated sooner rather than later.
The shift back into pre-pandemic ways is going to be uncomfortable for the majority of us. With all the paranoia and confusion that has entangled itself around the topic of the virus for the past two years, there is most likely never going to be a known time for when these changes should take place. Yet, I am grateful that schools are slowly adjusting back instead of trying to force things back to normal. If the school was to make masks optional for everyone during the whole school day, there would most likely be a surge in cases and anger from some families. But with the current mandate updates, I do believe that it will be accepted by most of the district, and hopefully, mark the beginning of the end of the pandemic days.