Should Schools Require Masks

Shafin Raihaan, Staff Writer

Last year was one of the most chaotic, eventful, and surprising school years we’ve ever had. From wearing masks in school to when we switched to distance learning with school mostly online. 

This year, however, we got some room to breathe. Returning to a semi-normal school year, we have had a loosening of mask regulations as well as a switch back to full-time and in-person learning. While optional masks and a normal schedule may be an exciting move–finally being able to do things regularly–is it affecting our health and well-being? 

Let’s review that data.

After all that we have been through, no masks have been a relief. Finally, we don’t have to gasp for every breath. 

Except not really. 

While no masks have been a long-awaited luxury, Covid cases have been on the rise. Especially in indoor areas where social distancing can’t be practiced effectively, causing some serious risks of spreading. 

This year, the Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) reported that there were 130,575 child COVID-19 cases from two weeks ago (10/7/21-10/14/21), representing a quarter of all covid cases in the US. The AAP also reports that many schools in the Dakota county district, including Lakeville north and south, had five or more outbreaks starting this school year. 

Students are confined inside of the school for the good part of seven hours every day, except the weekends of course. So when the mask policy had been lifted, social distancing was rarely if at all practiced, and Covid being a very infectious virus, it’s inevitable that the Covid cases would only increase, among the student body especially.

If preventative measures are not taken soon, covid cases in schools could rise exponentially. 

As said before, covid is a very infectious virus, easily spreading. Because of this unique ability, Covid not only spreads in small, confined spaces where many persons are clustered together–for example, a school–but also affects the whole area in which it is located–such as state-wide. 

To protect yourself from the Covid virus, the CDC not only recommends wearing masks if you are the age of two and above but also to “Put 6 feet of distance between yourself and people who don’t live in your household”. 

In a two-week study done (9/30/21-10/14/21), the AAP found that child covid cases have increased by five percent–and it’s still rising! Not only have cases been increasing but out of 49 states, but Minnesota was ranked 14th in the amount of child covid cases just in October alone. 

Compared to other states, Minnesota isn’t the largest or most densely populated area in the United States–surprisingly, we can leave the most packed to New Jersey and Rhode Island respectively, and the largest being Alaska. 

So what is it that made Minnesota one of the highest-ranking in child covid cases?

Looking back at one of the most densely populated states in the United States, Rhode Island, you can logically infer that because of its ratio between size and density, if no precautions were taken–which primarily would be wearing masks and social distancing–Rhode Island would be one of the most in danger of mass spreading of the virus.

But surprisingly they are not. In fact they are on the lower side of child Covid cases. 

To understand why, let’s look at the facts.

According to Rhode Island’s Department of Health, they included about their masking policy, “Whether or not you’re vaccinated, you’re still required to wear a mask: In public K-12 schools, on public transportation like planes, buses, trains, and boats, when providing or using paid ground transportation services…” and many other vulnerable areas for infection. 

Because their masking policy is more strict than the one in Minnesota, you can conclude that the reason Rhode Island ranks lower in the amount of child covid cases is that they are more cautious about the amount of spreading that could occur than Minnesota is–ranking 38 in the amount of child covid cases this October (10/14/21).

After reviewing all the evidence, looking at and analyzing the data, and making some logical and informed inferences, we find that child covid cases have been on the rise in Minnesota, and the no mask policy isn’t making it any better. 

Optional masks and barely any social distancing are a nuanced comfort, but the risks outweigh the reward. 

While masks aren’t mandatory, you can still choose to wear a mask, and help reduce Covid cases in our state.


        *Editors note: this article was written a week before LSHS began requiring masks on 11/8/2021