This is the third in this year’s series of editorial collaborations between ICA Cristo Rey’s Spartan Press and Riordan High School’s Crusader.
Spartan Spear: Veronica Leon '24
For the past two years, California State has required its residents to wear masks outdoors and indoors to help decrease the spread of COVID-19 and its variants. As of February 16, 2022, the mask mandates were lifted in California, but masks are still highly recommended, especially in indoor spaces, along with being vaccinated and boosted. The optional mask mandate has received good feedback from students and teachers. After the requirement of masks in schools for an extensive period, some students are feeling a sense of normalcy, of a time before COVID-19.
Specifically, on March 12, 2022, public schools in the Bay Area lifted their mask mandates. Each school district now decides if their students are still required to wear masks, or if masking is optional. This is a big step back into normalcy since the outbreak of the coronavirus. However, since the mask mandate was lifted, there has been a rise in COVID-19 cases, which has alarmed many people. Because of this, schools in the Bay Area should continue their mask mandates until the current variant’s risks subside.
Although masks have become the new normal, many students have grown tired of wearing them. With the relaxation of the mandate in some schools, students can breathe the fresh air that they so desperately needed and desired. The option of wearing masks will lead to more fun at school events such as prom, graduation, and class trips. Student life will eventually be back to the way it was before COVID-19.
Despite how glad students, teachers, and faculty are with this sense of return to normalcy in schools, there is a constant worry, especially with the current trends of COVID-19 and the Omicron BA.2 variant. The Omicron BA.2 variant is now responsible for 86% of COVID-19 cases around the world (according to the CDC), and with the spread of this variant, everyone is at risk, especially those students in schools where wearing a mask is optional. Alexandria Boehm, a professor in Stanford’s Department of Environmental Engineering, states that the cause for many of the Bay Area COVID cases is the Omicron BA.2 variant. In light of this, schools in the Bay Area should not be currently relaxing their mask mandates because of the ongoing risks of COVID-19 cases. It is expected that there will be a surge in cases during the summer. Because of this, the community must take as many precautions as possible to keep the Bay Area safe.
Riordan Roundtable: Bo Wyatt and Jonathan Kruger, Riordan ‘24
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected every aspect of our lives, including the imposition of government-enforced mask mandates. These medical face coverings have stirred up controversy, with some believing that they don’t genuinely prevent the spread of COVID, and that these mandates are contradictory to our constitutional rights, while others think it should be necessary to wear them at all times.
As of Jan. 1, 2022, state governments began to ease mask requirements, and currently no the states require people to wear them in public places. Although they are still necessary in high-risk settings like public transportation and schools, and despite the CDC's recent reissuing of its masking recommendation, masks are not always worn amongst the general population. It has been evident that people are not understanding the need for protection of the virus's new variants.
David Alfaro (Riordan ’24), when asked to speak of uplifting the mask mandate, asserted, “I personally feel the masks were a bit unnecessary because people never wore them.”
This represents much of the student population's opinions, as masks were commonly worn incorrectly or disregarded entirely. This trend has resulted in a spike in cases, and the resulting resurgence could potentially lead to the mask mandate being reinforced.
Amaya Amador (Riordan ’24) said, “I really hope the masks don’t become required again because they are uncomfortable and a nuisance.”
Nonetheless, as cases begin to surge again with the warming weather in California and neighboring states, we might want to rethink our lack of masks: for personal safety and protection they are becoming increasingly necessary.
Particularly in densely populated areas, this rise could eventually lead to a summer similar to last year’s. However, we should remain positive, follow instructions of the CDC, and make sure to stay home when feeling sick.
To avoid the implementation of the mask mandate again, and to further distance ourselves from COVID-19, it's of the utmost importance that we do all we can to avoid contracting and spreading the virus.