Vaccinated students should not have to wear masks

Students+have+been+required+to+wear+face+masks+throughout+the+school+year+as+part+of+COVID-19+restrictions.+With+vaccines+rolling+out%2C+it%E2%80%99s+time+to+do+away+with+masks-+at+least+for+the+vaccinated+students.+

Photo by Charles Calderone

Students have been required to wear face masks throughout the school year as part of COVID-19 restrictions. With vaccines rolling out, it’s time to do away with masks- at least for the vaccinated students.

Charles Calderone, Copy Editor

This school year has taken on a new normal due to COVID-19 protocols. This new normal includes changes to the school day structure, social distancing measures, and most notably wearing masks during school. While masks were absolutely necessary during the first few months of school and the peak of COVID-19, vaccinated students should not be forced to wear masks anymore. With cases declining in the last few months and more importantly, the vaccine being accessible to all high school age students, those students should be able to have some sense of normality during school. 

Allowing vaccinated students to remove masks during school would be a smart decision for a few reasons. For one, it would promote more students to get vaccinated, and therefore we would be one step closer to “herd immunity”.  This would also allow students to go back to enjoying school, talking to their friends, and being more social in the school environment. In addition, allowing vaccinated students to remove their masks in school would not be harmful to their well being. 

According to the CDC, “Fully vaccinated people can stop wearing masks in most public settings.” 

In Minnesota, the mask mandate has already been lifted, and since kids are at a much lower risk of contracting the virus than the average person, it only makes sense to apply the same rule to school. While mask-wearing is obviously a polarizing issue, it would be best if vaccinated students could stop wearing masks in school.

“The 12-15 age group just got approved for the vaccine, and a large portion of our student body is getting it,” school nurse Nicole Myers said. “Every day I hear of more and more people getting vaccinated.”

Allowing vaccinated students to remove masks in school would also help promote more people to receive the vaccine so we can achieve herd immunity. Many people are skeptical of the vaccine, so if there was some incentive put in place, people would be more inclined to receive the vaccine. Students who have stepped up to receive the vaccination should be rewarded in the form of taking their mask off in school. These students have sat through a year of unordinary school and have followed guidelines and recommendations to get the vaccine, so they should be rewarded with some normality. 

Junior Dylan Magistad expressed the problems students have faced throughout the year, as “wearing a mask has made it more difficult to connect with others, because it is tougher to recognize others with the mask on.”

Obviously, with only a few weeks left in the school year, not much is likely to change, but going into next year masks should be all but eliminated from the school setting. With many people getting vaccinated over the summer and the state getting closer to a herd immunity, masks should not need to be mandated for next year, and only used for personal preference.

“My hope for our students is that we won’t have masks next year,” Myers explained, “and if we do have them, it will be a personal decision to wear them.”

While this all seems like a no brainer, the discussion of masks always comes with some debate. For some odd reason, wearing a mask, which is a purely health related issue, has become a polarizing topic and somehow tied into politics. 

A large portion of our student body is getting vaccinated. Every day I hear of more and more people getting vaccinated.”

— Nicole Meyers

While many students are taking the proper measures and getting vaccinated, some students hold strong in their beliefs of not getting it. This means some may view it as unfair or biased that the school only lets vaccinated students remove masks at school. People might think the school is imposing their beliefs on their students and forcing them to get the vaccine. This is simply not the case, although allowing vaccinated students to remove masks may lead to dishonesty and confusion as to who is actually vaccinated.

“I do not think that vaccinated students should take off their masks because other students that haven’t had their vaccine will lie and say that they got it even though they hadn’t,” Magistad explained. 

Although there are some students who will not receive  the vaccine no matter what, enough students are willing to get it so herd immunity within the school should be able to be reached. If people do not want to get the vaccine, they will just have to deal with wearing masks, and at this point, that is perfectly fair given the fact that everyone is able to get vaccinated and people should be educated in their choices. 

Just to be clear, the argument here is not about the effectiveness of masks, as they were clearly necessary throughout the year, but the time has come to go back to normal within the school. Students are already low risk, and combined with most of the student body getting vaccinated, this should eliminate any fears of safety around the school. Students who have been responsible and got vaccinated should be rewarded by not wearing masks in school, so hopefully others will follow their lead and school can go back to normal.