TCAPS Board Requires Masks In Schools Until October

Students and board members voice their opinions about the mask mandate in school

  On Monday, Sept. 27, a board meeting occurred regarding the mask mandate throughout TCAPS schools. The TCAPS Board voted 6-1 in favor of requiring masks in all schools but will revisit the issue on Oct. 25. Josey Ballenger, Secretary of the TCAPS Board, supported the decision. 

  “Masking has prevented exposure, spread, quarantine and learning loss without a doubt. Masks are a small tradeoff for that. The freedom to learn in person is worth the small sacrifice. We don’t want to be like school districts downstate that did gamble at the start of the school year with no masks or optional masks and then they had to go all virtual,” Ballenger said. 

  While the vote was heavily for the mask mandate, many were still opposed to wearing masks. 

  “I believe COVID-19 is not going away,” Representative Sue Kelly said. “I think that we as a community need to figure out how to live within the parameters. And I believe the parents are the best ones to choose how to manage the health and welfare of their children.”

TCAPS Board members discuss district mask mandate at a public board meeting on Monday, Sept. 27.

  However, parents and board directors are not the only ones with opposing viewpoints on masks. Many students are divided about having to wear masks at school as well. While some students believe that masks should be worn at school for safety reasons, others believe that they should be a personal choice. 

  “Most people at the school are young and healthy so I think [wearing a mask] should be a choice,” freshman Skyler Hall said. 

  While some students have a strong opinion about the issue, others take a more neutral or not as strong of a stance. 

  “I’d be fine if I didn’t have to wear [a mask] but I’m also not really complaining that I have to wear one,” junior Hunter Witham said. 

  Quite a few students believe that masks should be worn for the safety of the school community. Wearing a mask is a choice outside of school, but becoming vaccinated is also a personal choice that many have faced in the last six months. Some chose to get the COVID vaccine for health reasons while others haven’t gotten it for the same reason. 

  “I certainly think [we should wear masks] in school because a few of us aren’t vaccinated and it’s important to protect them no matter how uncomfortable wearing a mask feels,” senior Owen Hansen said.

  Students argue that it isn’t effective to wear masks in school when masks aren’t mandatory at other schools and buildings like movie theaters and restaurants. Since wearing a mask isn’t required in Michigan, people with COVID could unknowingly infect others outside of school.

  “I think it is a little bit stupid [to have to wear a mask in classrooms]. I’m hanging out with the same people inside of school as outside of school without a mask. I think if I was sick I would get them sick anyway,” Hall said. 

  Since mid-May, face masks have not been mandated outdoors in Michigan but the fight for some continues to allow masks inside. Even though the vaccine is helpful, there is still a possibility of coming down with COVID for vaccinated people. 

  “I think it’s safe now to not wear them outside as long as you’re vaccinated. It’s important to keep them on inside because you can still get COVID with the vaccine,” Hansen said.

  Another thing that becomes a problem when requiring masks is how people wear them. Teachers and administrators continually ask students to pull their mask over their nose or put it on after eating. 

  “Half the people in this school don’t wear them correctly anyway,” Hall said. 

  If masks aren’t worn correctly, Hall argues that it isn’t effective to wear them at all. Many students didn’t want to wear masks this school year but will have to wait another four weeks to possibly be able to walk into the school without a mask on. Some want masks to be enforced universally because they fear for their health and the health of everyone. Others want to have the choice to wear a mask indoors because they think it is a personal preference or it is safe enough to not have to wear them.

  “People will always have the option to wear [a mask] if they feel they need to and it keeps them safe,” Witham said.