Students express opinions on mask mandate adjustment

Loren Savage and Layne Robinson

On Monday, November 15, Fayetteville’s school board officially altered the district’s mask mandate. FHS students have a variety of opinions about this decision and what it means for the school. Some students still feel as though masks are still necessary at school. Many we spoke to said that continuing to wear masks would make them feel more safe and protected.

Being exposed to Covid by unvaccinated students and staff is one fear a few students shared. “I think it’s going to go poorly, especially without requiring the vaccine,” said Pallazi Verghese, 11. Those interviewed who disagreed with the mandate revision would feel safer if the revision only included individuals fully vaccinated against the virus.

Some are apprehensive about the revision because of immunocompromised students. “I feel like it’s very dangerous, especially for people who are immunocompromised. We’re just going to see another surge of Covid cases,” said Addison Moore, 10.

However, many students also expressed a willingness to wait and see what happens. Whether or not they intended to continue wearing their masks, a large number were not firmly for or against the mandate as a whole. Ninth-grader Drew Mizanin stated that “they can always bring it back” if cases start to rise again. The district’s plan for the mandate follows this logic, saying that it will be automatically reinstated if cases cross a certain threshold.

Some students believed that removing the mandate would have little or no impact at all. “Enough people are already not wearing masks,” said freshman Olive Carroll, that mask-wearing habits will not change. Other students echoed this opinion. However, mask-wearing has dropped significantly since the mandate was lifted.

Many students also expressed a positive outlook on the mandate’s repeal. “I’m personally happy for it,” said Dillon Sanders, 10. Ninth-grader Alex Couch had a unique reason to be excited about the revision, stating that “it’s good to see everyone’s faces.” One student called leaving mask-wearing as a choice “more positive” than enforcing it for everyone.

A common opinion among students was put simply by Junior Kinley Rowe, who has decided to stop wearing a mask because “I’m fully vaccinated.” Rowe also added that she has “worn a mask for two years” and feels it is time for the mandate to go. Eli Henry, grade 10, who recently transferred to FHS, pointed out that other districts had already ended their mandates. Henry repeated Rowe’s opinion that students should not have to wear masks “if [they] are vaccinated and [they] have recently tested [negative].”

Many have decided to stop wearing masks except for in certain situations. Junior Natalie Bell will continue to wear her mask in the hallways, but said that “if I want to, I can take it off in class which is nice.”

“It kinda just depends on who all is in the room,” said Hayden Stone, 10.

Sophomore Zach Gardner agreed, stating that he would wear his mask “in higher populated areas.”

By far, the most common reason to support the end of the mandate was choice. Nearly everyone we spoke to who was glad that the mandate had been removed cited the ability to make their own choices as a primary reason. Nelson Aggus, a junior, said that it is “good to have your own choice,” and sophomore Lola Crowell said it is “great that people have the option” to not wear a mask.

Overall, students have mixed opinions about the repeal of the district’s mask mandate. While many have reservations, plenty of others are happy about it or do not have an opinion. Now that wearing masks at school is an individual choice, every student can consider the issue and make an informed decision based on what they feel is best for them and the Fayetteville High School community.