The Student News Site of Gabrielino High School

The Tongva Times

The Tongva Times

The Tongva Times

View Point: Is it time to lift the mask mandate?

Illustration by Isabelle Ortiz

Removing school mask mandate puts safety at risk

By Kaylee Chan | Editor-in-Chief

   For the first time since school resumed session in-person, school indoor mask mandates were lifted in the state of California. Students are now free to be unmasked on campus, both outside and indoors, regardless of vaccination status. While some see this as a welcome change, lifting masks regulation while the pandemic is still ongoing will only put students and staff at risk.

     Since the beginning of the pandemic, masks have been a tool for limiting virus transmission, especially when enforced. Research from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) shows that masks are “most effective at reducing the spread of the virus when compliance is high.”

  According to an article by Nature magazine, U.S. state mandates for mask-wearing over April and May 2020 “reduced the growth of COVID-19 cases by up to 2 percentage points per day,” even averting “as many as 450,000 cases.”

   For these reasons, many people within the school community saw masking requirements as beneficial. A poll conducted by UC Berkeley, which surveyed more than 8,900 respondents, revealed that 61 percent of Californian parents with school-age children approved of the mask mandate.

   Even now, when the rules surrounding masks have changed, the protection they provide against the virus remains. It is not reasonable to cast aside the enforcement of masks entirely for the sake of comfort or achieving normalcy in a world where there is still a real possibility of outbreaks in schools. According to CNN, the mandates were removed at a time when 11 counties in California still were classified as having high levels of COVID-19, thus putting these counties in danger of worsening their outbreaks.

   It is also important to consider the comfort of those who are immunocompromised or feel otherwise unsafe in an unmasked environment, who will now be in close quarters with unmasked peers for prolonged periods of time. Their feelings of safety are now being disregarded.

  According to the Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles teacher’s union president Cecily Myart Cruz expressed worries about the loosened regulations. “It is premature to discuss removing these health and safety measures while there are still many unvaccinated youth in our early education programs and schools,” she said.

   Even if schools do achieve high vaccination rates, masks remain an important tool for keeping others safe, especially as the virus takes on new variants and breakthrough infections become more common.

   According to a CNN article, immunity caused by the vaccine among adolescents aged 12-17 “dropped off steeply with time and the arrival of the Omicron variant.” Though vaccines are still effective in preventing transmission and lessening the severity of infection, masks remain an irreplaceable level of protection as more contagious strains of the virus appear.

   With the multitude of benefits masking provides, it would have increased the safety of all on campus to extend the mandate to the end of the school year, at least ensuring that the rest of the second semester would not be plagued with absences from teachers and students.

   For now, if the rules remain unchanged, it is up to everyone individually to assess what safety measures they are willing to take for those around them. Keeping the lower half of one’s face covered in class for a few months longer is a small price to pay to prevent one’s classmate or teacher from getting sick.

Lifting mask mandate benefits students across the state

By Paige Dance | Copy Editor

   The San Gabriel Unified School District (SGUSD) made the tough, yet appropriate decision eliminating the mandate, giving students the option to wear their masks while indoors, since March 14, following the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) guidelines released on Feb. 28. 

   The first step in lifting the mask mandate took place on March 1, which no longer required anyone, regardless of their vaccination status, to wear masks while indoors. However, the K-12 schools plan still strongly recommends the use of masks while indoors.

   According to the CDPH website, “Since Feb.14, cases have declined by 66 percent and hospitalizations have declined by 48 percent.”

   There has been a drastic decrease in COVID cases since the December surge, where it peaked at 45,104 daily new cases. As of March 6, there were only an average of 163 daily new cases. Seeing this turnaround, it’s clear why health officials have now decided that individuals can have the option of going maskless. 

   With our school board following the guidelines set out by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as well as the CDPH, students, staff, and teachers have the opportunity to choose how they want to move forward, giving people certain freedom that they felt had been stripped during the pandemic. 

   “All school-aged kids can now get vaccinated, so that’s good news,” Doctor Ashish Jha, the dean of Brown University School of Public Health, stated in an interview with TODAY, “it’s pretty reasonable to ease mask requirements in educational settings.”

   Vaccines are now widely available, as anyone 5 years of age and older are now eligible to receive it. Meaning that the majority of students attending school can get vaccinated, which gives a safety net when removing masks. 

   By lifting this mandate, society is one step closer to going back to the normality that we had before the pandemic. Now that conditions are better and it has been deemed safe, there is no better time to do so . 

   A lot of individuals have developed social anxiety because of the many barriers that the pandemic has put up. By getting back to our “normal”, people can interact with one another without fear, and lifting the mask mandate as cases decrease is one way to do this. 

   Although masks have been more than effective when it comes to the spread of COVID-19, they have created obstacles in other ways, such as difficulties for those hard of hearing. Removing this mandate helps human interaction all around by making communicating easier. 

   According to, “Many people who are deaf and hard-of-hearing rely on reading lips in order to communicate…those with hearing loss are left to find new ways to effectively communicate while simultaneously navigating safety measures.”

   As society begins to become more comfortable without masks on a day-to-day basis, we will be able to read facial expressions once again, something that has been missed in the classroom and in everyday life. Little things such as this are benefits of lifting the mask mandate. 

   After two years of this pandemic, some people are more than ready to move forward and never look back, while others still feel unsafe outdoors without a mask, and these restrictions being lifted allows both of these individuals to do whatever makes them feel safe.

Donate to The Tongva Times

Your donation will support the student journalists of Gabrielino High School. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Tongva Times

Activate Search
View Point: Is it time to lift the mask mandate?