The talk behind the mask

Students voice opinions on face covering ban

Story by Nashita Kalam, Staff Writer

Chattering filled the classroom. “Did you hear? We don’t have to wear masks anymore!” This was a common phrase used in Texas around the time of May. Many repeated these words with excitement in their voices, but little did they know they were getting excited too soon.

On May 18, Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced that mask requirements in public schools would be banned. Many people had mixed opinions on his decision. Some people felt that it was a terrible decision, while others were happy with the decision. 

“I thought that [Gregg Abbott’s new order] came in an untimely manner, and it shouldn’t have been this,” sophomore Tyler Unger said. “It’s too soon to tell if we need masks or don’t need masks.” 

When stepping onto school grounds, many notice there is a mixed environment. Some people wear their masks while others choose not to. 

“I think [the ban on mask requirements] does [affect the school environment,]” Unger said. “I mean it’s definitely separated people into two groups of maskers and anti-maskers.” 

Whether it’s for their safety or the safety of their loved ones, many people feel uncomfortable coming to school with no mask enforcement.

I have a family at home that I love dearly who are at high risk currently if they were to get COVID,” sophomore Avery Bullock said. “They are currently waiting to get their second vaccinations, but as we know the vaccine does not prevent COVID completely, it just keeps you from getting hospitalized for it.”

There are also mixed opinions on whether or not a mask mandate should be reinstated. 

“I think it should be the people’s choice if they want to wear one or not,” sophomore Addison Faris said.  

However, masks may help slow the rising numbers.

“I do [believe there should be a mask mandate] because you can see that the numbers are rising again,” Unger said. “It hasn’t stopped, and I just really think that for everyone’s safety we need to reinstate the mask mandate.”

Despite the executive order, some large school districts in Texas have decided to still require masks. Statistics show that the schools that do require masks have lower case reports. In the Dallas school district masks are still required. Seagoville High School of Dallas ISD only had one COVID-19 case reported; whereas, TISD doesn’t require masks and had 64 reportings on Sept. 9. Seagoville High School and Texas High School have similar enrollment numbers. 

“People look at last year and completely ignore the deadly pandemic we faced and decided to just forget about it this year, which has already resulted in many COVID cases in only the first three weeks of school,” Bullock said. “Yet the school still isn’t taking necessary precautions, which is very upsetting.”

In regards to the debate of this year’s and last year’s data, Principal Patti O’ Bannon addresses the situation. 

“This is my first year as principal of Texas High School,” O’Bannon said. “I haven’t seen a comparison of last year’s data versus this school year to determine if the ban on masks has resulted in higher numbers of student positive cases or students required to quarantine.” 

Though masks aren’t required, TISD continues to provide safety materials such as hand sanitizer and disposable masks upon request. Common surfaces are also disinfected continuously. 

“The safety of our students is a top priority,” O’Bannon said. “And I am thankful that our district is willing to provide the necessary items to help keep our campus as sanitary as possible to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other illnesses.”