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Opinion on Masking in School

Masking in school this year has become a topic of uncertainty as some schools around the country have loosened or even completely removed their COVID-19 precautions. While the CDC had recommended on August 31st that “all schools require universal masking,” we have seen schools such as Belmont Hill loosen their masking rules and social distancing strategies. Belmont Hill has been able to not only make life more normal for the students, but also keep them healthy, with no reports of a large outbreak yet. While masking may remain important inside the classrooms, it seems that with a school that has such a high vaccination rate such as Belmont Hill, the precautions should be lowered. With over a 90% vaccination rate, the chances of an outbreak are slim to none, especially considering COVID numbers as a whole in Massachusetts are seeing a decline. In addition, not only are the chances of students at Belmont Hill getting COVID-19 low, but the risk of fatality or even serious illness are extremely low considering the age demographic. While the school must keep in mind those who are immunocompromised and older faculty and staff, making masking a choice would allow those who feel safer wearing a mask, the ability to wear one. Therefore, in schools with high vaccination rates such as Belmont Hill, and without any major COVID outbreaks since the beginning of the year, it is imperative that we go back to more of a normal school year without the emphasis on masks. Until there is a positive case or outbreak, masking should become optional. While obviously there are laws that prohibit this right now, once they do change it is important that schools like Belmont Hill follow suit, and remove many COVID-19 precautions they once had. The October 1st reevaluation on COVID precautions in Massachusetts is a date to remember. Hopefully the state can realize that each school’s situation (especially in cases of private and boarding schools) is different, and pass legislation and guidelines that recognize this. In schools with such high vaccination rates with students of low risk, the administrations should be responsible for creating rules that fit their school’s needs. Masking in school does not have one general answer that is perfect for all schools. Having individual institutions make their own safety decisions is integral to the overall success of students in school this year. 

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