The mask debate has entered Broward County Schools, as the pandemic issue shifts from staying home to going back to school at the start of the new school year. Although Broward Schools currently remain online, it is evident that the county has plans to resume in-person learning beginning Oct 5. Ensuring the safety of each student should be a priority for the county. Nationwide, school boards have been caught in a heated debate whether wearing masks should be mandatory. Students should be obligated to use a mask properly at all given times.
As Coronavirus cases spike across numerous states, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have labeled face coverings as vital in stopping others from spreading the virus. Knowing that families have been severely affected by the virus, schools should take all possible measures to decrease the risk of contracting the virus, even if that means making masks mandatory.
The spread of the virus occurs through the small droplets that we expel when we speak, cough or sneeze, and the mask’s function is to prevent the virus’s spread that can infect others. Therefore, if all children wear them to school, they will protect each other from getting infected. They should use them at all times, including in-class and on school transport, regardless of maintaining social distancing.
A school that does not make face coverings necessary will face the consequence of increased cases within students, but more alarmingly, teachers. Teachers will be putting their own lives on the lines by coming in contact with young students each day.
As students can become carriers and move around the school to their classes, a teacher can come in contact with up to 100 students daily and at the Bay, potentially thousands. Each minute of classroom time that passes by on the clock is another minute for which the virus can enter another student or teacher’s system. Teachers do not deserve to be obligated to put their own lives at risk entering the campus.
A large school such as the Bay must strictly enforce safety guidelines as it can become an epicenter for coronavirus to spread. As students wear masks, teachers should monitor if students are utilizing effectively with no part of the mouth or nose open to others.
Another issue that arises from mandatory masks is if all families can afford to provide face coverings for each student. Schools should provide families with a form at the start of in-person learning, which indicates if they can provide their children with masks. Those who can not continuously provide a face mask for themselves should have the option to receive a disposable mask from the school. The school should do this as masks are currently considered a necessity, and just as students in low-income households have a right to a free lunch, they should have the right to stay safe.
Ultimately, a spike in cases due to the reopening of schools will cause another heated debate and it can even lead to schools closing down once more. Amid a global pandemic, something so simple such as wearing a mask can not be avoided. All it takes is the school community’s cooperation in wearing a mask, which sounds so easy, but could save a life.