Will mask removal change classroom guildelines?

Taking+into+account+the+new+county+policy%2C+Zaynah+Shah+%28%E2%80%9824%29+and+Rayyan+Shah+%28%E2%80%9826%29+stand+side+by+side+respecting+the+difference+in+their+masking+choice.

Zaynah Shah

Taking into account the new county policy, Zaynah Shah (‘24) and Rayyan Shah (‘26) stand side by side respecting the difference in their masking choice.

Starting from March 12, all counties in the Bay Area are lifting the mask mandate for students in class from K-12. While still being strongly required, the wearing of masks is now optional indoors with the choice being up to each individual. 

“We are evaluating changes to mask policy in local schools and childcare settings amid decreasing community transmission in Alameda County and in light of recently announced changes to the CDC’s recommendations for implementing prevention strategies,” said Alameda county’s Public Information Manager Neetu Balram in a COVID-19 Health Update to the county.

Following the enactment of Alameda County Health Department’s new guideline, concerns have been raised among students and staff regarding how this will affect interactions between the school body. 

“If a student feels uncomfortable sitting next to someone who doesn’t have a mask on, the first thing to do is to talk to the teacher, so that they can acknowledge your concern,” said Vice-Principal Melanie Harris. 

With the goal being to maintain student and staff safety, teachers hope to create comfortable environments for their students as everyone grows accustomed to the new policies.

“I’m concerned for students who have underlying conditions, and that they feel very afraid. So, I’m worried for them. Students need to feel safe coming to school but I also don’t want to alienate anyone who also wants to not want to wear a mask. I want to find a solution that makes everyone feel happy,” said AP Biology teacher Renee Ogle. 

The lack of masks being used on campus may lead to fluctuating reports of COVID-19 on campus, whether that be measured in an increase or decrease of total case reports. Although the school will not be monitoring seating charts, teachers will continue to be alerted if a student in their class has been recently exposed to the virus. 

“We have a running spreadsheet of students who catch COVID-19 or are out for symptoms. The absent student’s teachers will be alerted to their attendance through the Student Portal. The student’s attendance record will be marked with a Q to represent Quarantine,” said Harris.

Through this transition, opinions among students are sure to differ. It is incredibly important for a general respect for the choices of others to be maintained.

“Everyone has their own belief systems about whether to wear a mask or not, and we need to be kind to each other and tolerate those decisions whether they align with yours or not. We have to respect people’s decisions, and we shouldn’t make them feel bad for whatever side they choose,” said Harris.