Cross Currents: Are you for or against the discontinuation of the enforcement of masks in class?

Illustration+by+Alloy+Zarate%2C+2020

Alloy Zarate

Illustration by Alloy Zarate, 2020

Allison Budde and Delaney Newhouse

Following the COVID-19 mitigation plan, City College has lifted the mask mandate in accordance with Santa Barbara County moving to low tier. This is the first week in over two years that masks have not been enforced in classes on campus. We have students with different views on this new transition, so we asked our staff, “Are you for or against the discontinuation of the enforcement of masks in class?”

 

Allison Budde, Staff Writer

If someone were to tell me two years ago that I would still be required to wear a mask in school, I would be shocked. After two plus years in a pandemic, I am ready to live my life with normalcy and not wear a mask in class anymore.

Although there are many things in this world that are a lot worse than wearing a mask, I feel as though the mask mandate at school has negatively affected my experience at City College. 

I graduated high school in June, 2020 and decided to take a gap year due to the pandemic. I didn’t want to move to a new place with new people when there were so many social restrictions. I am now starting my second year at City College and I still haven’t gotten a normal in-school experience because of all the COVID-19 mandates and protocols.

I work in the food industry and masks aren’t required during my shifts, so I feel if I can make food for people without my mask on, I should be able to attend class maskless.

I am 20 years old, and have had COVID-19 three different times. I can say for someone as young and as healthy as me, COVID-19 does not pose a big risk to our long term health. For students in the same boat as me who are not considered high risk when catching COVID-19, masks are not necessary. 

With COVID-19 becoming less of a concern, it is time to retire our masks while still being safe.

 

Delaney Newhouse, Staff Writer

While masks are an inconvenience, one’s own convenience is far less important than others’ health and wellbeing. Masks are one of the few effective safeguards City College has against COVID-19. While classrooms have air purifiers, very few have acceptable ventilation. Students may be vaccinated, but only a minority actually complete their daily health check. Changing the status of masks from required to highly recommended is the next in a long line of policies that only go part of the way in protecting students and their families.

Santa Barbara County’s low-risk status is likely derived from a lack of reporting, rather than an actual lack of COVID-19 cases. Hospital admissions are still disproportionately high in comparison to the number of reported cases, according to the CDC COVID Data Tracker. City College is choosing to make this decision based on unreliable data.

Making masks an option, rather than a requirement, unfairly places the responsibility of risk management on individuals. Each of us is hardly in the position to understand the potential risks of our own actions to others.

There are many students who have only limited access to healthcare, or cannot afford to miss a single class for fear of unfair teacher reprisal. These students should not be forced to endure the consequences of mask removal. They furthermore should not be forced to publicly reveal their own vulnerabilities in order to request measures that should already be in place to protect them. Unfortunately, Vice President of Student Affairs, Paloma Arnold’s, recent email seems to suggest they ought to.

Masking is not a question of private sentiment, but public health.