Amongst Manual students, an overwhelming majority agree with the mask mandate set in place by JCPS and Governor Andy Beshear. In a poll on RedEye’s Instagram, out of 382 voters, 90 percent believe that masks should be required in school. The other 10 percent believe masks should be, in some manner, optional for students, whether that be only unvaccinated students required or an optional mask policy for all.
“There are kids that are uncomfortable with wearing masks and are forced to,” Lacy Dodds (12, HSU) said. “I try to be pretty open to viewpoints but in my opinion I don’t think they [masks] should be required because in the end it is up to you to put yourself at risk.”
To Dodds, going to school during the pandemic is a choice students make to possibly expose themselves to the virus. “I just think you should overall have a choice,” she said. “Not many people enjoy wearing a mask, especially walking up and down stairs several times throughout the day.”
Many students agree that masks should be optional, but only for vaccinated students. “I’m just saying that I think there shouldn’t be a blanket statement of masking for all,” a student who chose to remain anonymous told RedEye. “I think that the vaccinated people, including myself, should be able to go maskless.”
To regulate this, the school would have to ask students whether or not they are vaccinated. “I support proof of vaccination 100 percent,” they said. “The unvaccinated should remain masking. But the data shows that the rate of breakthrough cases reported among fully vaccinated is well below one percent.”
With JCPS vaccination rates low, motivation for mask mandates took protecting unvaccinated students into consideration. “I think that the unvaccinated students should take initiative, like all high school students are expected to do, especially at Manual, and get the vaccine on their and others’ [sic] account,” the anonymous student said.
Students like Michael Williamson (9, HSU) agree that masks should be optional for only vaccinated students. “The reason a lot of people I know got vaccinated got it so they wouldn’t have to wear a mask and so I think that it kinda disappointed a lot of students that they had to wear a mask even though they were vaccinated,” he said.
Many of the 10 percent of students wanting masks to be optional believe that unvaccinated students should still be required to wear their masks. “They shouldn’t be forced to take it [the vaccine], but if they don’t take it, don’t be mad that they have to wear a mask,” Williamson said.
Most Manual students believe that masks should be mandated for all students, not just the unvaccinated. This is true for Jacqueline Tran (10, HSU). “I believe that masks should still be mandatory in schools, especially because of the new delta variant of COVID-19 and rising cases with it,” they said. “If we keep wearing masks this year, it’ll decrease the chances of us having to in the next few years.”
Kennedy Hampton (12, HSU) agrees. “Just moving down center hall, I am shoulder to shoulder with the people surrounding me,” she explained. “In one of my classes there are 45 students and it is packed because no classroom is that big. With the large amount of students Manual has, we would not be able to contain this virus if there wasn’t a mask mandate.”
Students like Raima Dutt believe that wearing a mask is the bare minimum of showing respect to those around you. “Since the numbers are surging as of right now, I don’t think a mask-free school would be the best idea due to the harms that come with getting the virus…” she said. “I think the least we could do is wear a mask, as it is not a big disruption in the classroom and still allows for in person learning while keeping everyone safe and potentially saving peers, friends and family.”
With an overwhelming majority of Manual students agreeing that masks should continue to be worn at school, many students hope that those opposing the mandate will respect it to keep themselves and those around them safe, as well as keeping school in session. “This mask mandate is just the best way to keep everyone safe in the best way possible,” Hampton said. “Even if the masks are annoying at times.”