Masks in School: Yay or Nay?

Students and parents of Utica Community Schools are conflicted on whether a mask mandate should be put into place

Christina Gasiewski, Junior Writer

With COVID-19 cases still rising in Metro Detroit after 18 months, parents and students are conflicted on whether wearing masks should be mandatory or not. About 43% of the 533 districts in Michigan have a mask mandate but people are wondering why not UCS? Why has UCS not come to a decision yet?

Some people do not like masks, others need them to feel safe. Without them, an outbreak can happen, and school could be closed again. Parents, students, or staff members can voice their opinions on the matter to their home schools or to the superintendent. 

Kids can bring home the virus and get seriously sick and potentially get their family members sick as well as others at school.

According to “Parents spar over masks at Utica Community Schools” by Mara MacDonald, the superintendent Robert Monroe held a conference with some parents and showed them data regarding countywide infections. When asked for the public’s comments, majority of the parents said they are against masks and others want masks to start off the year. Many parents do not agree with testing and quarantining, so they would prefer a mask instead of their child missing up to two weeks of school.

“I don’t think it’s necessary for the school to have a mask mandate if the majority of the students are vaccinated,” Utica senior Rea Gollopeni said. “However, if the student is unvaccinated and decides to not wear a mask, that’s on them.” 

Some people do believe that vaccination is the better option over masks. Even some businesses require testing every week if someone does not want to get vaccinated. On the other hand, others disagree with the mask mandate, saying it gets in the way of their daily life.

“Honestly, I would hate to wear them for over six hours. I get why this is a huge conflict because they want others to stay safe, but I think it should depend on the person and what they want to do,” Eisenhower senior Evan Shallow says. “Don’t force everyone to wear a mask, that’s just not fair.” 

Masks can be seen as a consequence to some. Majority pull them down under their nose half the time so it can be pointless to wear one to some.

“I also play tennis so I would hate to wear my mask during practice or a tournament,” Shallow says. 

Student athletes do not want to have to wear a mask during their games. “It can be distracting, and can feel claustrophobic with one, especially if you are sweating during your game,” Shallow continues.

Some teachers feel differently than the students. “I choose to wear mine. Five out of 12 students wear them in my class, Preschool teacher Patricia Benoit says, “If they come in with it on, we help keep it on all day. This age is not vaccinated, and I do what I can to minimize the spread. I do not have any students immune compromised but if I did, I would still obviously wear a mask.”

You will just have to wait until they come to a decision. COVID numbers have been rising in Utica schools so we could see one in the near future. The school board has to decide if they’d rather have kids continue being quarantined or switch to all virtual, which could happen with too many outbreaks.