Voices of the Students

Hayley Hall

February 17, 2022

It all started with a single social media post.

A story was posted on Instagram urging students to decline the statewide mask mandates and refuse to mask-up at school from now on, striking extreme controversy within our community.

Hashtags trended and students chose which side to take: “pro-mask” or “pro-mask choice.”

In response, an additional post was made on Instagram by fellow student, senior Ashley Delgado, sharing her take on the issue and accumulating over thirteen-hundred comments in just three days.

Students defended and advocated on behalf of their side of the debate, offering their opinions and reasoning to support. However, the comment section wasn’t just filled with respectful, passionate debate, but with hostility and contentious discourse. 

When I saw all of the debate in the comments I was confused about where a lot of people get their information, and sad to see that misinformation has impacted so many people’s opinions. It seemed like a lot of people think masks are meant to protect the person wearing it, when in reality they are meant to protect those around you,” said senior Hayley Hall.

Both of Hall’s parents work in the medical field, her mother “a nurse who had COVID patients on her floor for a while because there were so many patients in the actual COVID unit at Mission Hospital.” Her father is a respiratory therapist, meaning he manages the breathing and airway of patients, and as “COVID impacts the respiratory system, he takes care of COVID patients every day at work.”

Hall’s parents recommend people continue to mask as long as the mandate is in place while the virus continues to mutate, and more variants spread; especially at school, where “people are so close together and thousands of us at SJHHS [have] different backgrounds and home lives. Some people and their families are at a higher risk of getting really sick or even dying if a student brings home COVID from someone who decided to not wear a mask.”

“Because you are most contagious 2 days before you are sick, you can be spreading droplets before you even know you have the virus. Masks are meant to protect the people around you when you are wearing it properly, so if everyone in a classroom is wearing a mask, your chances of getting COVID are lowered,” said Hall.

All three strongly support masking and vaccinations, as they protect not only those at risk, but prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed and healthcare workers from being overworked because of Covid cases. Patients who can otherwise get non-COVID related care quickly and efficiently are struggling as beds are filled with COVID patients, many of which are unvaccinated.

“To people who are pro-mask choice, I want to say that wearing a mask is an easy way to protect those around you. It is one step in stopping the spread of the virus while it is still all around us. If everyone is wearing a mask, there are multiple layers of protection between people,” said Hall.

Despite what side of the argument one may take, most can agree that they just want all of this to be over: the pandemic and the political unrest that wrongfully accompanies it.

“This shouldn’t need to be a political issue, but it has become a divider. People in the comments on the Instagram post were attacking each other about politics and which news networks they watch, but this should be solely about science and medicine that is backed by real studies and data,” said Hall.

The most important thing to remember through all of the mask-driven controversy is to be respectful to everyone brave enough to vocalize their opinion.

Stay safe and remain respectful.

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