Is The Mask Up Campaign About to Mask Down?

Is The Mask Up Campaign About to Mask Down?

James Porter, Reporter

The Springfield mask mandate is scheduled to be lifted on Friday, April 9th. Many people in town suggest that we extend the mandate while others think we should just let it expire. 

The Springfield area has been under a masking ordinance since July 16th of 2020. This means if you go anywhere like a business, school, or any other facility, it is required that you wear a face mask and you wear one properly. With many people getting vaccinated and cases of COVID-19 are down, we are trending in a good direction.

The Springfield/Greene County Health Department says that the current average case count and hospitalizations numbers have reached their targets to lift occupancy restrictions and are moving towards the masking mandate being lifted, but they would also like the community to be 25% vaccinated yet we are only at a mere 11%. 

“I encourage the community– let’s follow through on this. It looks to me that the vaccination numbers are the key and we encourage people to try and do that,” Springfield Mayor, Ken McClure said in a conference two weeks ago. 

One of the main places that exposures can happen is in the schools. There are 50 public schools in Springfield with more than 23,500 students and 1,700 teachers, so there have to be some precautions in place to keep everyone safe. July 23, 2020, one month before the 2020-2021 school year started, Springfield Public Schools released a statement about their plan for the school year. 

They gave students a choice between fully virtual schooling or a mixture of in-person and virtual schooling. The fully virtual option is just as it sounds, fully virtual. Students who chose fully virtual though do not have to follow any type of schedule and they can do their work at their own pace for the most part.

The hybrid option consisted of last name A-K students going to school on Mondays and Tuesdays with a virtual/zoom Wednesday and self-guided online assignments for Thursday and Friday. The students with last names that started with L-Z would go to school in person on Thursdays and Fridays with virtual/zoom Wednesdays and self-guided virtual assignments on Monday and Tuesday. In addition to this new school structure all teachers, students, and any other staff are required to wear a face mask at all times except when eating or drinking. 

At the beginning of February, Springfield Public Schools switched to a 4-day in-person schedule with Wednesdays being virtual/zoom days for everyone. Just recently after spring break, about midway through March, SPS transitioned into 5 days a week for everyone. Even if the mask mandate is up, I believe that SPS will still require face masks for all students and staff. 

After conducting a poll on some Hillcrest students, about 63% of students think that the mask mandate should be lifted, and 37% of students believe that there is no reason that it should be lifted and it should be extended. 

Mattie King, a junior at Hillcrest said “It is clear that’s it’s still currently unsafe to be without masks. Lifting the mandate would most likely cause a rise in cases and make the city a hotspot once again.” King is pleading her case about why the mandate should not be lifted and makes a good one. She believes that the masks do help and that if we take away the masks then we are taking away a vital part of what is keeping us safe and cases will go up again.

The students who do think that the mandate should be lifted say that because they either have their own personal health problems that are hard to deal with while wearing a mask, or they just don’t like wearing masks and they make them uncomfortable. 

We will know the future of the mask mandate on Friday, April 9th and I believe that they will do whatever it takes to keep the citizens of Springfield as safe as possible.