The USD 383 school board voted in favor of removing the mask mandate on Oct. 20. This has led to mixed opinions on the ruling.
“Honestly, I’m not really a fan of the decision, mainly, because while you know, there is that Thanksgiving break for, you know, for people to stay home,” senior Ashi Wickramasundara said. “I think during that period of time, we’re going to see a lot more traveling in and out of state due to the fact that it’s being a break.”
People during that time may not be aware that they have COVID, according to Wickramasundara. This means that they could be spreading COVID to others without realizing it.
On top of the potential of spreading COVID to family members during the break, there is a level of concern among staff and students of spreading it to immunocompromised family members now.
“I will be wearing my mask this next week. My son has an autoimmune disease. He attends Manhattan High School and I do believe that…,” Spanish teacher Carmen Wilson said. “This is a family decision that we have made to wear the mask. And also my husband suffers from diabetes and that puts him also [at] high risk. So I will keep wearing my mask.”
There are some concerns relating to staff members themselves and whether or not they can or should request that students wear masks in their rooms, even if they are immunocompromised.
“I don’t know if [teachers] have enough… authority to mandate masks in their own classes. But obviously, like me personally, I would want to respect my teachers’ preferences, especially if they’re immunocompromised,” sophomore Sonika Kholsa said.
Although there is science behind the decision to remove the mask mandate, there isn’t complete confidence in that decision from some.
“Well, I see where they’re coming from. And I do trust, you know, the science, the facts, but… I just feel like it’s a little bit too early to really feel confident in that decision,” Wickramasundara said. “I, again, the fact that it’s a test run, it kind of just shows that it’s not a completely confident decision. And I would rather have us follow something that’s more confident.”
Of course, there are many different opinions on the subject of mask wearing. Those differing opinions do not mean there should be any judgement or disrespect from other students.
“I hope that we can be mature enough to respect what everyone does, even though I obviously have my stance on it,” Wickramasundara said. “And I do hope people respect where I’m coming from.”