OPINION: Masks are still necessary and relevant

Kate Marlett 

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     Masks. Vaccines. Quarantine. These buzzwords are in Instagram posts, Tweets and on everyone’s local news station. They fuel heated arguments and create rifts in friendships. In an age where people are tired of dealing with the pandemic, many wonder why they should even try. 

     The truth is that everyone is tired. No one wants to be told that they cannot be with their friends or that the vacation they have been looking forward to for so long has been canceled. No matter how much people divide over the topic, we are all in the same boat.  

     In an effort to return to “normal life,” many stores and restaurants do not require facial coverings if an individual is vaccinated against COVID-19. Schools, too, began to follow this notion that being vaccinated alone stops the spread of the virus. 

     The truth is that wearing masks, not vaccination status alone, is still the best way to stop the spread. Rachel Herlihy, the state epidemiologist for Colorado, reported to the Denver Post that masks have a clear impact on transmission of the virus. 

     The article, published Sept. 23, states, “Students in Colorado school districts that declined to institute mask mandates are infected with COVID-19 at higher rates than in districts that have face-covering requirements.” 

     Masks work. That’s why Academy District 20 in Colorado Springs has begun to mandate the wearing of facial coverings in their schools. According to a newsletter from Superintendent of Schools Tom Gregory, the district was experiencing an average of 300 student quarantines a week when students did not wear facial coverings.  

     Three hundred quarantines a week means hundreds of students are being disconnected from their learning environments, forced to retake tests and miss invaluable days of classroom instruction.  

     Three hundred adds up. Soon, it is six hundred. Nine hundred. In just one month, over a thousand students are quarantined. The equivalent of an entire school population is sent home for two weeks. 

     The impact of quarantines not only affects those who are in learning environments but also those who have jobs working with others and are sent home. 

     Being quarantined means going back to April 2020 when the most one could do in a day was finish a coloring book and care for houseplants. Being quarantined, as we all know very well, is hardly a pleasant experience. 

     The decision that mandates masks is important and should not be ignored. Masks, though they have been associated with the early stages of the pandemic, are even more necessary and relevant now than they were then because of the Delta variant.  

     Though everyone would prefer this era to be over, the truth of the matter is that we cannot control everyone’s situation; we can only control our own. Masks are still the best course of action during this stressful and tiring time of the pandemic. It’s up to us to join together and keep our community safe. 

Stock photo courtesy of Unsplash.com