To mask or to unmask; schools should continue to require masks


Photo Credit: Mrs. Danielle Allen

Located in Woodbridge, New Jersey near the Parkway entrance and the Metropark Train station, this banner was hung by a local group of parents who feel students in school should not be required to wear a mask while in school. This group of 35 people started a private Facebook page to promote their plight.

By: Sarah Quiceno, Reporter

With 38, 461 new cases the first week of 2022, it’s clear that the Omicron variant is putting no end to COVID-19. Thousands are still being hospitalized and cases only seem to be increasing. The spread doesn’t seem to be dying down anytime soon, but many believe that lessening precautions and going back to “normal” is the only way to move forward.

Many politicians and school districts have been trying to follow through with these ideas. They plan to no longer obligate students and staff to wear masks in school. Though New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy has declared a 30 day public health emergency that allows an extension to his current mask mandate, many still have their own opinions on the matter. With this comes those who believe that masks are no longer necessary at all. This leads to the question whether to mask or to unmask; should schools continue to require masks for students and staff?

Should schools still require masks?

Masks in school with rising cases and the Omicron variant spreading at rapid rates is necessary. It is the only option to keep schools open and safe for  students and staff at the moment. 

The biggest teachers union in the state, the New Jersey Education Association, agrees with Murphy’s fight for the mask mandate as they refer to it as the, ““common-sense step to keep public school students and staff safer during this current COVID surge.”

Cases reaching record highs and being described as “the most since April 28,2020” by Governor Phil Murphy further prove the point that unmasking right now is not the best option.

Republicans’ point of view

In contrast, many believe that the mandating of masks at this point is unnecessary.

Sen. Anthony Bucco, R-Morris stated, “we need to give people hope that life is returning to normal, not returning to one man’s rule by executive order.” This tries to add to the idea that unmasking will bring life back to normal.

Additionally, republicans have spoken out and stated that still requiring masks is “a giant leap backwards.” Senate President Stephen M. Sweeney agrees with these statements.

He states, “we can’t live like this for the next five years,” and that, “we have to find a way to live with this.”

Trying to get life back to normal seems to be a recurring theme for those who strongly believe in this.

How should we proceed?

In the future it’s entirely possible that cases will lessen and optional masks at school can then be enforced. Unfortunately, during this peak of cases a decision to unmask seems careless. It would be irresponsible for the health of everyone in school buildings. Keeping masks mandatory until cases are low enough to allow for the choice is safest for everyone’s health.