New Mask Policy Enacted as Schools Face Second Covid Year

10th+grader+Claire+Hexem+putting+a+mask+on+in+the+CHS+hallway+on+October+12%2C+2021+

Allysa Marie Fernandez Totanes

10th grader Claire Hexem putting a mask on in the CHS hallway on October 12, 2021

Allysa Marie Fernandez Totanes, Reporter

Illustrated by: Allysa Marie Ferndandez Totanes

New Covid cases in Utah as of December 1st, 2021 grew from August 1st, 2021; showing an increase of 52,259. Daily updates of COVID-19 current cases, hospitalized, and deaths can be found on the Salt Lake County Health Department website. 

Last school year [2020-2021], masks were mandatory in the Granite School district; this current school year [2021-2022], the law regarding school mask mandates was changed by the Utah State Government during one of the legislative sessions. COVID-19 information can be found on the Granite school website under “Covid-19 Updates”.

“This is a dynamic situation, and the district will comply with any and all state directives made at any point during the school year,” said on the Granite School School website, “if cases reach a threshold for dismissal (2% of the student population), the district and health department will initiate a rapid testing program to reduce the amount of time that students are away from school.” 

Granite School District follows the state’s and local government’s current guidance concerning masks in school.

“If the state or local government changes their policies, we will comply with their decisions,” said assistant principal Joshua Bates, “masks are strongly recommended for all staff and students while indoors but neither the school nor the district can require them. In addition, harassment in any form, directed either at those who wear face coverings or those who choose not to, is not tolerated.” 

Students and teachers each have their own opinions and values regarding the mask policy; some feel more comfortable wearing masks nonetheless whilst some choose not to. 

“Because the science has demonstrated that wearing masks reduces viral spread, I am wearing a mask every day whenever I am indoors, whether it be at school or the grocery store, or outdoors in large groups, which I tend to avoid whenever possible,” said Bridget Bolland, science teacher. “Since we live in a community and interact with other people, I feel responsible to do my part to reduce the viral spread, so I wear my mask to protect others.”

Alan Xavier Guinea Mancia, 11th grade, said, “[My] first reaction when I see a fellow student without a mask, I feel indifferent because I have confidence that they are up to date with the vaccine and or that they are healthy. The second reaction when I see students without a mask is that I feel upset because when someone is sick like coughing or sniffling while being unvaccinated, it shows me that they do not respect the health of others around them.”

Some students feel neutral about the stance of individuals who attend Cottonwood High School.

“I’m okay with it [CHS students and teachers wearing or not wearing masks] why make people have to wear it [masks] if they are comfortable not wearing it.” said junior student Sophia Vera Guerrero.