Backpacks, books, pens, and masks

Should face masks be a part of the school's dress code?

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Photo by Kayla Licon

In the midst of a global pandemic, should a student be penalized for wearing midriff-exposing clothing, but not for refusing to wear a mask? Absolutely not. As the possibility of in-person classes increases, so does the debate as to whether or not masks should be in the dress code, or, if not wearing a mask can get you dress coded. This debate first surfaced when a set of photos taken at North Paulding High School (Dallas, GA) depicted a crowded hallway where few students were wearing masks. Addressing the outcry, the superintendent stated that the school couldn’t enforce mandatory facial masks because it was “a personal choice.” Could Mission Hills have the same approach?
“Students should wear face masks because though they might be uncomfortable, masks can help prevent students from getting COVID. While masks aren’t guaranteed to stop the spread of viral particles completely, wearing one dramatically reduces the spread. Also, we have to wear masks everywhere else in public, so why should school be any different?” Sara Huffman (12) said.
Masks must be considered vital to in-person classes, so that students can congregate without fear of contracting the virus. Students who have respiratory issues or underlying health concerns would be risking their lives just to attend school. Asymptomatic students could carry the virus home and endanger high-risk family members. Without masks, school would become a treacherous place for students.
However, the argument still stands that wearing a mask is deemed as a student preference. If a student did not feel safe with going back, the option stood for them to continue distance learning and not opt for in-person schooling at all. Some even think that the mask is overkill.
“These protocols for COVID are a bit extreme because it’s just another strand of the flu and overall has not killed that many people. The people who have died from covid either had underlying conditions or were very, very old,” Anne Tedrow (10) said.
Indeed, it is true that if you weren’t comfortable with going back onto campus, you could’ve stayed online. However, students shouldn’t miss out on the normal school experience because of their peers’ entitlement and lack of civility. And on the topic of a “personal choice” preventing schools from enforcing a dress code: it’s a student’s personal choice to wear revealing clothing. It’s a student’s personal choice to wear offensive or abusive graphics. And yet those are all viable reasons for getting dress coded. Wearing a mask isn’t a violation of your Constitutional rights. It’s the most basic act of kindness you can do for the people around you, since you’re not only keeping yourself from getting the virus, you’re also preventing yourself from spreading whatever illness you may have to others.
Nonetheless, this issue will be dealt with in one way or another, depending on when we do return to in-person classes. Whether they’re required or not, wearing a mask is the simplest, easiest action you can take to protect yourself and your fellow classmates. If we ever want to get back to any normalcy, we need to cover all bases and cover our faces. Wear your masks, everybody. Please.