Revision mask of mandate causes mixed reactions

School Board decision creates concern for some


Zoe Ziessman

Sophomores eat lunch together without facing a mask mandate barrier March 17. Many students still choose to wear masks although it is not mandatory.

On March 10th, 2022, the School Board made the executive decision to make masks optional. In regards to this decision, the Echo Editorial Board believes this was an informed decision that should be followed carefully. It is important that the school proceeds with caution and monitors cases consistently. 

The revision of Policy 808 took place March 10. It implies that masking is still recommended regardless of vaccination status. However, if students, staff or visitors choose not to wear a mask, their decision will be supported in district buildings. A notable change is the 5% threshold. It indicates that if/when 5% or more students and staff test positive for COVID-19, the mask mandate will shift back to being required. As for the Minnesota State Department of Health, well-fitted masks are recommended in certain situations, although they are not required by the state. Park’s revision of Policy 808 is an adequate adjustment, but it is extremely risky considering spring break is coming near. and a generous amount of individuals have autoimmune diseases. 

Even though we aren’t seeing as many COVID-19 cases at Park, there are still a lot of cases in other states that aren’t following guidelines as well as Park has been. Spring break is a time that families, students and teachers go on vacation. Because of this, there is a concern about another spike in COVID-19 and what that may entail.

In regards to staff members, this policy revision lifted a weight off the shoulders of many staff at Park. Pushing the mask mandate and constantly reminding students to wear masks ended up becoming the teachers’ responsibility. Teachers should have never been in a place where they had to hold students accountable; the students should’ve held one another accountable when masks were mandated. With the new rule, teachers have one fewer straining responsibility on their plate.

The new masking mandate has raised awareness of the prejudice regarding masking. Already, students are being publicly shamed for choosing to not wear a mask. This may be due to personal beliefs, or simply because wearing a mask has become the new normal and it’s hard for students and staff to adapt to change. Calling out the stigma around masking is important because there are alternative ways people can stay safe that don’t revolve around mask mandates. It is inconsiderate to judge or jump to conclusions when someone chooses to not wear a mask when it is not mandated. The School Board should make it clear that wearing a mask is not a choice if you are not taking any other precautions in regards to preventing COVID-19.

The goal is to stay safe, and Policy 808 has made it clear that if there is a 5% spike, the mandate will be back in place. The Echo Editorial Board believes students should comply with the new mandate as long as the district keeps following CDC guidelines. A change in the masking policy does not disregard other policies, it just changes a few. While having the option to wear a mask at school is gratifying for some, it is a big decision that comes with a lot of constraints and anxiety for others. In this case, there is no normal. We have to collectively adapt to change in our own way and allow ourselves and our peers to do so as well.