Opinion: Why Oregon’s mask mandate shouldn’t be lifted as early as this spring (especially in public schools)
Miina McCown/The Broadside
Ever since early 2020, for most of us, wearing masks have been the norm. As much as some Americans may loathe having a piece of fabric over half of their face when going out and during gatherings, it’s a small sacrifice to make in comparison to the graveness of the dangerous virus that is COVID-19.
As cases and hospitalizations have been steadily showing a decrease in Oregon for the past few months, the Oregon Health Authority has announced the statewide end of indoor mask requirements in all public places by March 19th. This includes public schools.
To a lot of Oregonians who simply want the pandemic to end, it may seem like the more appealing option to stop requiring masks entirely, in an effort to feel like things are going back to normal for good. However, this puts everyone at risk, especially the more sensitive groups such as children and senior citizens.
Although the COVID-19 vaccines are readily available and free for everyone 12 years old and up, there is still the part of the population who refuses to get vaccinated, as well as the possibility to catch the illness despite being fully vaccinated.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, while most people who catch COVID-19 are unvaccinated, vaccines aren’t 100% guaranteed to prevent the virus, and even those who are fully vaccinated may be susceptible.
Public middle schools and elementary schools in America are essentially germ factories. From a logical standpoint, the safer choice, or rather, the rational choice would be to continue to require masking in at least all schools for longer than other public areas.
When I had heard the news about the statewide mask mandate ending in late March, I was shocked, then disgusted, then confused. While it may not be the easiest thing in the world to enforce mask wearing in public schools, it feels like such a small trade to make in return for the hundreds of lives that could be saved and the hundreds of hospital beds that could be conserved for patients with conditions that aren’t as easily prevented as COVID-19.
Although some people have pretended as if the mask mandate has already been lifted, starting on March 19th, the choice will be each Oregonians’ to make: a small sacrifice in exchange for saved lives and less COVID-19 cases.