Students are now 4 months into the 2021-2022 school year. After a slowing the spread of Covid-19 in the state of Maryland, many students, educators, and parents are now wondering when we will be able to ditch our masks. On Tuesday, November 16, the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) held a meeting where they took testimonies from various students, student leaders, teachers, superintendents, healthcare professionals, principals, parents, and others who wanted to weigh in on the MSDE’s decision.
During the four and a half hour meeting the MSDE took testimonies with various viewpoints about lifting the mask mandate. People from all over the state weighed in on the county’s decision. Kristen Camati, a mother of four, voiced, “masking and vaccination are allowing for the education of countless children.”
With the rising Covid cases in the country Camati goes on to argue, “now is not the time to relax the mask mandate.”
On the other side of the debate, many argue that a “one size fits all” approach is not fair since not all counties are the same, and that the MSDE making this decision is an attack on local and parental power. Katie Haman, a Baltimore mother, called the mandate, “a blatant abuse of power.”
Back at Oakdale, many students hope that the county will make the best decision when it comes to the mask mandate. A good majority of students are tired of wearing masks. Thandi Mbuya, a sophomore at Oakdale high school, stated, “I can’t wait till the mandate is lifted. Sometimes it gets hard to breathe while wearing masks and it’s really annoying when my glasses fog up because I’m wearing a mask.”
Meanwhile another group is a bit more tolerant when it comes to required masking. Peyton Travis, also a sophomore at Oakdale, voiced, “the mask mandate is not too bad. I think it’s what we need to stay safe.”
Travis goes on to say that “ if our covid levels are down and over 80% of the state is vaccinated then [the state should lift the in school mandate.]”
While students’ views on masking differ, all students hope that the county will make the right decision that will keep us all safe.
Finally, on December 1 the board came to a conclusion that for now the mandate will stick, but they’re looking for a way to “off ramp” masks.