To Mask or Not to Mask?

With the introduction of Sion’s new mask-optional policy, it is still important to be mindful and continue to take the necessary precautions to keep our school safe.


Photo by Halfpoint from Shutterstock

Sophie Gromowsky, Copy Editor

To mask or not to mask? This has been one of the biggest questions facing public health officials and school administrators since schools across the country began welcoming back students in August. Following the CDC’s recommendation issued on November 2 that all children ages 5 through 11 receive the Covid-19 vaccine, an increased number of schools have begun to rewrite their masking policies, opting to make masking optional, according to ABC News.

On October 29, an email from Sion President Alicia Kotarba announced that Sion High School would be implementing a mask-optional policy for vaccinated students which would take effect on November 4. This new policy allows for students, faculty and visitors who have been vaccinated to choose whether or not to wear a mask at all school events and sporting events where social distancing can be maintained.

Despite the excitement that this policy change has inspired, it is still important for students to remember that the pandemic is far from over and that this shift to mask-optional is not an invitation to disregard other important safety measures. Sion’s high vaccination rate and small number of Covid-19 cases among students and faculty this year are a testament to our school’s commitment to keeping our community safe. Even with the removal of the mandatory mask policy, it is important to remain vigilant and continue safety practices such as social distancing, sanitizing hands and surfaces frequently, and staying home if you feel sick or start to experience symptoms, according to the CDC. Students must continue to take our school’s efforts to combat Covid-19 seriously in order to maintain a safe and healthy environment for us all to learn.

Graphic by the American Red Cross

In addition, it is important to remember that the decision of whether or not to wear a mask is not one-size-fits-all. There are many different factors to weigh when making your decision. Are you or a loved one at high risk for Covid-19? Do you have a parent or family member who is a healthcare worker that may experience more frequent exposure? Even if none of these apply to you, you may just not feel comfortable going maskless yet and that’s okay. It is important for everyone to make their own decision about whether or not to mask up after taking into consideration their own individual circumstances and comfort level.

Finally, it is crucial that unvaccinated students continue to wear their masks in order to preserve the health and safety of our school community. Our student body’s current vaccination rate of 84% is impressive, but it is not enough to ensure herd immunity in a mask free environment since vaccinated individuals are still capable of transmitting Covid-19, according to CNBC. Everyone has an important role to play in keeping our school safe, and it is vital that we all continue to do our part.