Some teachers at Mira Loma High School say San Juan Unified School District dropped its mask mandate too soon. The school stopped requiring students and staff to wear masks at school on March 14, days after California ended its statewide school mask mandate.
The change comes as case counts have dropped dramatically across the state. The statewide daily case count was TK per 100,000 people as of March XX(date), compared to TK per 100,000 in January.
Mira Loma biology teacher Rochelle Jacks said removing the district’s mask requirement was “a bit premature” but still “reasonable.”
“I still think high risk groups and non-vaccinated people should mask for their own protection though,” Jacks said.
Physics teacher Scott Martinez agreed that the mask mandate was lifted earlier than he would have liked, but said he could understand why the SJUSD made their decision to lift the mask mandate with the rest of the state.
“Doing it now, I can get it because people who wanted to get vaccinated have had the opportunity,” he said.
Jacks felt that she will continue to wear her mask even without it being required to reduce the number of days she has to miss school.
“My primary reason is so I don’t have to miss work! This latest variant is incredibly contagious and a positive test would have me away from school for a minimum of five days. I would rather not risk that, so I will continue to mask up until numbers drop a bit more.”
Martinez concurred, explaining how he will continue to wear his mask in most places, but will feel more relaxed when taking it off. He also mentioned that it will be a change to see students without their masks after masks have been required at school for more than half of the school year.
“In most places I will continue to wear it, but I might feel a bit more at ease, like when I’m out eating, taking it off a little sooner than I normally do, or have been. I don’t know teaching wise, because it doesn’t bother me all that much at this point. It’s just part of the process. It’s going to be weird just seeing people without masks. A lot of these people I’ve never seen without masks. It’s going to be an adjustment.”
For Martinez, loosening up the mask mandate leads to no control over requiring masks at school as students and teachers are in no position to question the vaccination status of others.
“As soon as they loosen up the rules at all, it’s going to fall apart. It is somewhat an all- or- nothing. Last summer, you could not wear a mask if you were vaccinated, but if you weren’t vaccinated you had to wear a mask. But it’s hard to tell, and we can’t ask.”
However, Martinez brought up how some students may be put in a more difficult situation without the mask mandate if they want to get vaccinated but their parents disagree. This can be especially difficult when students have more rights in other categories of their health, but not their vaccination status.
“[There are some] students who don’t control whether they have the vaccine or not, it’s their parents. You have control over your reproductive aspects, and rightfully so, but you don’t have control over if you get the vaccine.”
Jacks feels that with or without the mask mandate, she hopes that people will take this past year as a lesson of common courtesy to others by wearing a mask when sick to prevent the spread of other viruses.
“I hope we have adopted the social practice of wearing a mask in public whenever we have a cough or cold as a courtesy to others.”