Student Reactions Mixed to Mask Policy Changes

The+majority+of+students+were+still+wearing+masks+on+March+1+as+they+traveled+between+classes.+

Brylee Hall

The majority of students were still wearing masks on March 1 as they traveled between classes.

Brylee Hall, Staff Reporter

Face masks for students at school will be optional as of March 1. Governor Youngkin signed  Senate Bill 739 into law on Feb. 16, which gives the option for parents/guardians to decide if their child will wear a mask or not.  

Like most topics surrounding Covid mitigation strategies, students’ opinions are divided. Many think it’s too soon or aren’t quite ready to go maskless and others are looking forward to the mandate being lifted. 

“I’m definitely still going to wear my mask and I know a bunch of my friends are still going to wear theirs,”  freshman Clara Whitehead said. “I just think it’s too early to take them away because Covid is still a big thing, but it isn’t my decision to make for other people.” 

Cases have been declining in Albemarle since January, but we still have an average of 43 cases a day as of February 28, according to The New York Times Coronavirus tracker. Currently, only 75.4% of Albemarle County Residents are fully vaccinated and 43% have gotten their booster shot according to the Blue Ridge Health District

Others view this as a positive change and look forward to attempting to move on from pandemic life. “Honestly I’m all for it. If it went through the Virginia General Assembly, that means most of Virginia wants it. That’s what our governor is meant to do, to give Virginia what it wants,” junior Sean McLaughlin said. “It’s all up to you and what you feel safe doing. I’m going to take mine off and, if cases go up, then I’m going to put it back on. It’s as easy as that.”

I’m going to take mine off and, if cases go up, then I’m going to put it back on.”

— Sean McLaughlin

The quick turnaround time from the bill’s passage to its taking effect has been stressful for some students.  They fear going back into quarantine and learning virtually again. “I’m a sophomore and did my freshman year virtually,” sophomore Audrey Evasius said.  “It was harder to learn during lockdown. I don’t want things going back to how they were.”

Seniors are especially concerned about finishing out the year without more negative changes. “I don’t think that it’s a good decision because having masks is to prevent the spread of Covid. And I feel like everything is just gonna go back to how it was when we were virtual,” senior Hope White said. “I just really want to finish my senior year and be able to do that normally. I feel like continuing to have masks will help me to do that.”

I just really want to finish my senior year and be able to do that normally. I feel like continuing to have masks will help me to do that.”

— Hope White

Evasius thinks it’s too early in the pandemic to be lifting mask mandates, but once more people get vaccinated and Covid rates go down, then it should be a choice.

Some students have no strong opinion on the matter and simply think it should be the person’s choice. “I honestly don’t mind it. I think personally it’s the person’s choice. I had more of a problem with the vaccine mandate than anything,” freshman Hasib Naseh said. 

Other students are glad they can finally have the option to wear masks and be back to normal again. “First of all, some people have problems with breathing just like me. I don’t breathe from my nose, so wearing a mask makes it hard to breathe,” junior Abdul Ghazul said “I feel like if I take the mask off, it would be perfect for me.” 

Even though masks are now optional, ACPS is continuing to follow Covid mitigation strategies with 10-day quarantines for anyone who tests positive and enforcing social distancing.