With the unexpected advent of COVID-19, the world was thrown into panic. Now, months later, our small high school is taking precautions. More specifically, the state is requiring that masks be worn while students are at school.
Masks are a controversial topic among students at NS with 29 percent of students being in favor of masks being required, and 29 percent against them. The remaining students have neutral attitudes toward the new requirements.
One of the biggest reasons for opposing masks is simply that many NS students think that the virus is being blown out of proportion. Nearly 20 percent of students indicated that on a scale of 1-10, they thought that the threat level of COVID-19 was a one.
“COVID-19’s fake,” said junior Jamison Poulsen.
Poulsen, along with a significant portion of our student body, strongly disagree with the new mask requirements.
“You can’t breathe in the d— things,” Poulsen said. “They’re annoying to wear, they’re pointless, they hide your face–it’s just annoying.”
While nearly a third of students don’t like the masks, 80 percent of students believe that our school is doing a good job with minimizing the supposed threat of COVID-19. And mask wearing is an important part of maintaining that safety.
“I feel like there’s lots of science behind that [masks] work,” said sophomore Brathan Nielsen. “The school is [doing a good job]… but the students themselves aren’t really being careful with it.”
While it is certain that there are many different and even opposite opinions in the student body, there is very little contention in the school itself about the masks. A whopping 49 percent of students say they never remove their masks, except to eat or drink. An additional 12 percent said they removed their masks during the ‘mask breaks’ that some teachers at the school offer as a part of class. Though 30 percent said they took breaks outside of class as well, only 8 percent said they removed their masks often.
Indeed, the majority of students both in class and in the halls wear their masks when they are told to do so. However, the few students who are against masks feel strongly that they should not be mandatory.
“It’s against our rights… just being an American–it’s a free country,” said Poulsen. “Why would we have to wear masks?”
Other students argue that masks do not halt the spread of the virus, or even that they facilitate transmission. Opinions on this, as with all controversial issues, vary widely.
Something else to consider is the fact that some people feel decidedly unsafe when others refuse to wear a mask around them.
“I’m worried about spreading it to other people who could die from this,” said Nielsen.
It is not just the students who feel this way. Alana Miner, a substitute teacher at NS, has multiple high-risk family members in her household.
“We need [masks],” Miner said. “To my family, it’s a very big threat. It saddens me that they’re not taking it serious and are not willing to help those who are immunocompromised and have underlying conditions.”
One simple conclusion that can be made from all these opinions is that very little is known about the situation as a whole.
“I think the virus is real,” said Brandon Olsen, NS shop teacher. “I think a lot of our student body doesn’t think it’s an issue because it hasn’t hit home. We haven’t really seen it here.”
For now, it seems the only choice the student body has in the matter is whether or not to follow the guidelines provided by both the state and the school district. Regardless of whether or not those guidelines slow the spread of the virus and regardless of whether the virus is even a threat or not, NS will stand strong together as a school.
“Students need to be more caring and empathetic about people who can’t get the virus,” Nielsen said. “We just all really need to work together on this.”
Valid opinions are presented on both the side that supports masks and the side that does not. However, these rules are in place for a reason. Wearing a mask is one of the only things that a person can do to feel safe in these trying times.
“I just hope everybody keeps wearing their masks,” Miner said, “so we can continue with school and we can continue with life.”