How to Effectively Take Steps to Create Change

February 17, 2022

As writers of The Express, we are in full support of individuals speaking up about what they believe in. It is important that when anyone sees a need for change, they are not afraid to make their voice heard. 

By no means are we saying that the students protesting the mask mandate at SJHHS should be silenced, rather we are disappointed at the inconsiderate way they went about their actions. 

Students have been walking into class without a mask to protest the California mask mandate, which states that “K-12 students are required to mask indoors, with exemptions per CDPH face mask guidance.” This is a statewide mandate, not one specific to SJHHS. 

Students and parents who hold schools and school districts accountable for the mandate do not recognize that every school across California is not given the choice, and there is nothing administrations nor our teachers can do about it. 

By walking into classes without masks on, students are putting their fellow classmates at risk and creating uncomfortable interactions with teachers. Teachers are taught how to deal with confrontation, however the refusal to wear a mask puts teachers in a spot where they need to speak up and enforce the mandate, an unprecedented type of confrontation in the classrooms. 

The California Department of Public Health says that, “Consistent with guidance from the 2020-21 school year, schools must develop and implement local protocols to enforce the mask requirements.”

We believe that there are better ways for these students to get their point across. Instead of exposing classmates to possible illness and putting teachers in tough positions, we hope the students will prioritize taking their opinions to those who actually have the power to create change. 

Ultimately, the students did not express much empathy for the individuals who rely on masks to keep themselves and their families safe. Everyone is tired of wearing masks, but we must be mature and consider how our actions affect others before making impulsive decisions.   

While the advocates for mask choice could have handled the situation better, those who argue against them are not much better. Some students arguing against those protesting the mask mandate lack a filter on some of the rebuttals they make, which target the physical appearance, the safety, and even the families of the protestors. 

These types of attacks and insults on individuals’ appearance and character are far from effective in trying to get others who disagree to be open-minded and listen to what they have to say. When comments start to drift from respectful disagreements to threats and cyberbullying, people no longer feel safe to express their views. 

As students who advocate deeply for free speech, we aim to foster an environment which cultivates educated, respectful discourse. As students grow up and begin to explore their beliefs and align their morals, we encourage them to educate themselves and discuss with one another, respectfully.

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