Dismissing Mask Mandates For Schools Disregards Students’ Health



Concern rises for many people as the Delta variant infection rate rises. To avoid this, schools should enforce a mask mandate. Photo courtesy of @Bany_MM.

After seeing my whole junior year get disrupted by COVID-19, I had hoped I would get a somewhat normal senior year. I’ve done my part of staying masked and getting vaccinated, and fully prepared to stay masked during school, not knowing what my peers have chosen for themselves. As the Delta variant rises, concern has grown for my family and I, and once again, our Texas government has failed us.

Schools have always been a breeding ground for germs, with packed hallways and classrooms full of children. Students have families, with some family members at high risk and some who may not recover from COVID-19. Some teachers have children, children who cannot yet get a vaccine. Even though many students are vaccinated and not at high risk, we have no idea who they’re in contact with. Shouldn’t we protect our students, staff, and their families?

Though a lot of high school students are vaccinated, not all of them are, and the best thing we can do to protect them is to enforce masks. Encouragement is not enough. After over a year of encouragement, if they still haven’t learned, they’re not going to now. Governor Greg Abbott seems to care more about the approval from the right-wing Republicans than the health and safety of students and teachers.

A lot of excuses about not being able to enforce masks are going around. “We can’t force students to wear this” and “what about our freedom?” This seems very hypocritical, as for years, women have been forced to cover their shoulders for “the sake of the school.” If teachers and administration can enforce this, I’m sure they can enforce masks. This is not about freedom. This has never been about freedom. This is about protecting our community from a deadly virus. Some school districts in Texas are speaking up and prioritizing safety.

Fort Worth School District is defying Abbott’s decision to not let schools have mask mandates. Though they will have to pay a fine, the school district has decided that their community is more important than the money. While many schools don’t nearly have enough money to pay the fine in general, all I can do is hope that RRISD follows these districts and does more than just “encouraging students” even though there is a fine.

“The safety of students and staff has and always will be our priority,” Fort Worth Superintendent Kent Scribner said.

If our Texas government will not protect our community, schools must take matters into their own hands and prioritize our safety. Once we get COVID-19 rates more under control, we can go back to doing all of the activities that make school fun. These activities, such as prom and homecoming will go away first if things continue to go in this direction. I genuinely hope that more districts, especially our own, show Abbott what we think about his carelessness and work hard to take care of our community.