Outside Perspective: Mask Optional in Cumberland Valley School District

Outside Perspective: Mask Optional in Cumberland Valley School District

Prathum Arikeri, Outside Contributor

COVID continues to rage in the United States – an average of over 750,000 new cases every day. Even in Pennsylvania, there have been over 29,000 new cases in the last 24 hours alone, however, the Cumberland Valley School District’s Board made a shocking – and plainly crude – decision to remove the mask mandate, and make masks optional starting January 17th. This is astonishing largely because there have been nearly 30 new cases of COVID every week in our high school alone. Just last year, the CDC released a study blatantly expressing that schools shouldn’t drop mask requirements because “researchers found that infection rates were 37% lower in schools where teachers and staff members were required to wear masks”. Although the majority of the school will continue to wear masks, a small percentage will take advantage of the situation and shed their masks, putting the rest of the population at a higher risk; it’s as simple as an unmasked individual rubbing their nose and making contact with a desk or sneezing and some minute nasal droplets landing on someone’s belongings. If the desk is then touched or the belongings used, people may not get COVID, but the spread will be much more omnipresent, the virus more ubiquitous. Though these masks may be uncomfortable, especially if one is wearing them at school for over 8 hours in total, they are a necessary step in keeping the entire group safe. So, let’s all take a small step and mask up, even if it isn’t mandatory in a closed environment; clearly, it’ll go a long way in combating the pandemic.