Masks in School, Yes or No?

Ben Gensiejewski, Staff Writer


Photo credit: Mika Baumeister

It’s been a long, stressful day, you’re walking to the fourth period. You just had P.E. so you go to pull down your mask to catch your breath from the hour and a half of intense playing of table tennis. Instantly, you’re met with outrage. Teachers from all sides start yelling to pull your mask up, threatening you with the authority of the principal.

It’s not a shock some teachers get mad, but is the correct response, acting like wanting to breathe is a strange idea?

It’s best to understand where the knowledge and authority for the mask mandates comes from. Mrs. Spitzer, the school nurse, gave some insight on how Victor came to the Coronavirus procedures, “…that all comes from the New York State Department of Health, as well as guidance from Ontario County Public Health.” She also made known a perhaps obvious point, that the people at the Department of Health are experts in the field, and it’s not just anyone coming up with these rules. 

But do kids really listen to teachers when they are demanded to pull up the piece of cloth over their nose? Jackson Guck and Ava Zaccour weighed in, saying this, “I listen to them for 2 seconds then it falls down, and I keep it there.” 

A sophomore, Mia Gauthier, has an opposing view, stating this when asked the same question, “I do because I’m concerned about other people’s safety.” While another said they do it out of respect for the teachers. 

Whether the masks make the students feel safer from the current pandemic is another question. Multiple students agreed that they think that they feel safe with or without the mask. Though a fair amount ultimately concluded there’s no reason for the mask, especially if they’re vaccinated. 

Though, unsurprisingly, every student mostly agreed, wearing the mask is not an ideal situation, but their views on the danger of the pandemic ultimately determined whether they wear it diligently throughout the day or not.

Often mask debates are overshadowed by medical decisions and leave out an important element: psychology, according to Mr. Cain, a now retired long time psychology teacher at the high school.

“…when you look at children, more so growing up in the Pre-K, Kindergarten, where a lot of what they learn, facial expressions and a mask covers that up, which may developmentally slow them down…” Mr. Cain believes that psychology can and should be used when factoring in science to the mask debate. 

He went on to say with confidence, “…if you did a longitudinal study on the wearing of face masks for the last two years and took those Pre-K and Kindergarteners, and see, I think you’d see a difference in their academic growth and their ability to be successful.”

This cautious view also was highlighted by Mr. Porter, a biology teacher at Victor. He called attention to the lack of testing saying, “I’m really surprised the scientific community hasn’t done specific things.” 

He then reiterated this point later when asked about any possible harmful effects of masks when he stated, “This is where biology comes in. I don’t think we know because I don’t think we’ve tested.” in reference to the seemingly lack of testing on masks. 

Despite his concern with the lack of testing, he still managed to give several examples of possible dangers, explaining that the possible lack of oxygen could lead to spiked heart rates and depleted attention spans. 

Though, relying on scientific principles only goes so far; he’s also seen the potential irrelevance of masks first hand. He pointed to school lunches, “I was down… walking by the library, every day at lunch and there’s kids right on top of each other, nobody’s wearing a mask, they’re eating their food, and there’s not been an outbreak at the high school.” 

He finally wrapped up his views with this, “Covid’s not going away, just like the flu doesn’t go away, so if people think we’re gonna keep doing this until we get rid of Covid, which is not a very lethal disease unless you have complicating issues, it’s not going away, it’s gonna be here all the time…” 

Covid isn’t going away, at least not from the looks of it and as Covid-19 rages on, so will the mask debate. Perhaps what’s best is to follow the facts and use our common sense to decide how we can all be kept safe, while pursuing happiness that we as Americans all hold dearly.