Since school started back up in August, students are wearing masks for hours at a time, in classrooms as well as outside. With one semester of school complete, how good has the M-A population been at following mask rules?
In a survey sent to M-A students and teachers at the end of first semester, respondents were asked for their opinions on masking in classrooms.
Over half of the 81 respondents rated student masking in classrooms at a 4/5, with a five equivalent to everyone masking properly. A quarter of respondents rated mask use with a 5/5. However, one freshman said, “When I say that the students were properly masking 4/5, I was just trying to say that a few people don’t put on their masks correctly.”
Despite the positive outlook, some people paint a different picture. Three out of the 81 respondents rated student mask use at a 2/5. Freshman Eileen Liu said, “There are a lot of people who wear their masks incorrectly and it is so annoying. I feel so uncomfortable being in class and people’s masks are below their nose. Sometimes it is below their chin. People that sit next to me in class wear their masks incorrectly and I feel so unsafe.”
The efficacy of masks not only depends on how well students wear them, but also what type they use. Assistant Vice Principal Nicholas Muys said, “Generally, cloth masks, especially ski mask-type masks are really not particularly effective when it comes to prevention of spreading of aerosol [airborne] particles, and so, really, surgical standard masks are what we highly recommend.”
Almost two-fifths of respondents rated teachers’ enforcement of masking at a 5/5. Only six respondents were teachers, so this is mostly indicative of student opinions. Freshman Arman Azadpour, who gave teacher enforcement a five, said that “there are always one or two people breaking the rules, but usually the situation is under control.”
Over one-fifth of respondents rated teacher enforcement at a three or lower. One respondent said, “A lot of the time people pull down their masks to talk or wear them under their noses, which is not only dangerous, but rarely corrected by teachers.”
Muys said, “I know we had teachers refer students to us when students don’t use masks properly, or are unmasked. We really rely on classroom teachers to do [their due] diligence and to remind students.”
Around one in three respondents rated administration’s promotion of masks at a 3/5 or lower, but no teacher responded with a 3/5 or lower. Sophomore Sienna Aylaian told the Chronicle, “I put a three for [admin] because [they don’t] say much about masking, at least that I notice.”
Muys explained that “[Masking was] something we were very clear about at the beginning of the year, we have followed up on our messaging quite a few times…. I know there is some ambiguity around mask-wearing inside while eating, and, you know, the county guidelines are actually a bit vague there too, but we’re committed to following local and national guidelines.”
The Chronicle also asked the respondents to rate their masking out of five. Over 80% of respondents rated themselves a five.
Over nine in ten students responded with a form of “yes” when the chronicle asked whether masks should be worn in the classroom. One freshman wrote that “We are in a pandemic—we can’t let poor mask-wearing slide by, noticed but not changed.”
Around 6% of respondents gave a form of “no” to this question. A sophomore who gave this response explained their reasoning as, “High vaccination rates + low risk = mask requirement ????”
Two respondents argued that we should trade masks with vaccines. A teacher said that, “We need to require the vaccine for students and faculty so we can stop wearing masks at school. Wearing masks is much better than being online, but we need to get back to having school without masks so we can better hear and talk to each other.”
When asked whether M-A would be dropping masks in the near future, Muys stated that, “[Dropping masks] really all depends on what the state, what the county says, [and] what the district’s decision is.”Liu commented, “Going back to distance learning would be hard for everyone so wearing a mask and getting vaccinated should not be that hard!”