To Mask or Not To Mask

To+Mask+or+Not+To+Mask

Elaina Schilt and Gaia Splendore

Argument Against Masks

A common argument in support of mask mandates is that the Delta variant poses a new threat because the vaccine does not protect against it. However, Oxford scientists tested the effectiveness of the Pfizer vaccine against the Delta variant by recording the number of vaccinated people that tested positive for the variant.

According to the study conducted by the National Institute for Health Protection Research Unit in Healthcare Associated Infections and Antimicrobial Resistance at the University of Oxford, less than 1% of the vaccinated individuals were positive for the Delta variant, confirming the effectiveness of the vaccine, even against the new variant. The study also found that natural immunity that comes with having been infected with the virus offers just as much protection as being vaccinated against it.

Around 64% of Americans have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Dr. Fauci stated that 70-80% of Americans would need to have natural immunity for the virus to be considered controlled. Currently, 85% of Americans have natural immunity against COVID-19.

With so many Americans immune to COVID-19, there is a very small percentage of the population left vulnerable to contracting a deadly case. It is senseless to impose mask mandates in a country where the vast majority of people are extremely unlikely to contract a severe case of the virus.

We have all been told that wearing a mask is essential in slowing the spread of the disease and protecting others from infection, but this is undoubtedly called into question by the inability of masks to block the droplets through which the coronavirus is spread.  According to Canadian viral immunologist and federally appointed COVID-19 vaccine development expert, Dr. Byram Bridle, the aerosol droplets produced when someone sneezes or coughs can be up to 60 microns in size. The pores in typical cloth and medical masks range from 80 microns to 500 microns in size.

This means that masks allow the largest droplets to fit through even the smallest openings, as if you weren’t wearing one at all. Dr. Fauci even said that, “wearing a mask might make people feel a little bit better, but it is not providing the perfect protection that people think it is.” Masks are ineffective at their only job: preventing droplets from passing through.

Several school districts, including many in Fort Wayne, have once again implemented mask requirements in K-12 schools. Kids who wear masks for more than four hours a day face potential “psychological harms,” as well headaches, dehydration, and a decline in “cognitive precision,” according to the Childrens’ Health Defense of California.

Not only does forcing children to wear face coverings for seven hours a day have negative effects on their mental health and overall wellbeing, but there is also no scientific data supporting the mandate of masks in schools.

According to the American Association of Pediatrics, over 4.41 million children have been diagnosed with COVID-19. Less than 0.03% of those cases resulted in death, and seven states even reported zero child deaths due to Covid. More kids have died from the common flu than they have from COVID-19, and masks were never suggested in the past.

Additionally, teachers and childcare workers have all had the opportunity to receive the vaccine, and over 80% of them are currently vaccinated. Children have put up with wearing masks for over a year now, and with teachers protected and children largely unaffected by Covid, there is no logical reason for mask mandates to be imposed on children in our schools.

When asked about the mask requirements at schools and other public places, Harrison Smith (10) replied, “Everyone has the right to make the choice of either wearing (a mask) or not… and people should respect others’ decisions.” That is the beauty of living in a country like the United States, where we are free to do as we see necessary to keep ourselves safe.

I do not believe in discouraging people from wearing masks if they feel more comfortable doing so, as they have a right to decide for themselves just as everyone else should. As Americans, we should have the respect to allow everyone to make their own decisions on matters concerning their personal health and wellbeing, and that includes the choice to wear a mask or not.

 

Argument For Masks: 

It would be an understatement to say that the world is mentally ready to move on from COVID-19. However, that’s not quite the case as of yet.

With COVID-19 cases on the rise and a new variant that is more resistant to the vaccine, the pandemic is still very real.

In order to combat the virus, some students at Homestead have continued to wear masks to school while others choose to exercise their freedoms and not wear it.

The school board announced that for the 2021-2022 school year, masks are optional. Whether or not to wear a mask is a personal choice students make for themselves.

Firstly, the Center of Disease Control mentions the arrival of a new variant of the COVID-19 virus, the Delta variant.

The variant has been described as being more infectious and having a higher transmissibility rate than other variations, even if a person is fully vaccinated.

For example, student Meredith Loney (11) said, “I got Covid from cheer camp where we were advised not to wear masks and I was vaccinated.”

Aside from this, Loney does not wear a mask to school, saying, “after having the variant I also have the antibodies for the variant now so it’s hard to get again.”

Because the Delta variant is resistant to the vaccine, the CDC has updated it’s guidelines about masks, now highly recommending everyone in areas of substantial or high transmission to wear a mask in public indoor places. Indiana is currently marked as having a high transmission rate.

School buildings also have students sitting in close proximity with each other with plenty of people in one room, especially in the cafeteria.

Student Raegan Rhodehamel (12) mentioned this when explaining why she does wear a mask, saying, “I wear a mask because school is a lot of people really close to each other.”

Medical professionals and certified organizations like the World Health Organization advise people to continue to wear masks, especially in places with lots of people close together, like a school.

The importance of wearing a mask to combat COVID-19 is evident. A plethora of different medical sources have highlighted the importance of wearing a mask. For example, the Olmsted Medical Center says that when two people without masks are in close contact, the transmission rate for COVID-19 is high.

In contrast, when only one person wears one it drops to a moderate risk of transmission.

When both people wear a mask, they are at low risk of transmission. Also, it is especially beneficial to wear masks to protect those who are immunocompromised.

Rhodehamel  mentioned this when she  said another reason that she wears a mask is because “I also hang out with my grandparents a lot and my grandpa is vulnerable to the virus.”

People with autoimmune diseases, the elderly and young children are all at special risk to contract and suffer from the virus.

Some unvaccinated people, whether by choice or inability to, are  more susceptible to the variant. Again, masks seem like a reasonable solution to lower transmission rates.

Some may argue that wearing a mask is uncomfortable and inconvenient, but the slight discomfort experienced when wearing a mask is a small price to pay to ensure the health and safety of others.

Overall, masks are worn to ensure public safety, not just the wearer. If just one piece of fabric can do so much to help the community, then why not wear it?

COVID-19 is still deadly: even if it does not do too much damage on a healthy teen’s immune system, it can have dramatic effects for the immunocompromised .

Getting COVID-19 can be a very painful and isolating experience, so people should do their part to protect themselves and others.

Ultimately, it is a personal choice and no one is inherently good or bad for wearing one or not. Everyone has the right to make their own decisions about what is best for themselves.