The major mandate

The importance of wearing a mask


Photo courtesy of Brenna Batchelder

Students within Millard West follow the mask mandate, but there is a lot of room for students to ignore it. Enforcing this rule will ensure that students and teachers stay safe and protected from COVID-19.

Brenna Batchelder, Staff Reporter

In hopes of continuing an in-person school year during a pandemic, Millard Public Schools has enforced masks to protect students from COVID-19. The Mayo Clinic explains that when masks are used widely within public spaces, the transmission risk is lowered significantly. In theory, masks work. They protect individuals from COVID-19 and ensure their safety if social distancing guidelines and proper sanitation procedures are followed.  

Unfortunately, one walk through a Millard West hallway would prove that mask guidelines aren’t being followed as closely as they should be. It is hard to gauge how many students ignore these guidelines, but emphasizing that these guidelines are important will encourage students to be more vigilant. The chief of pediatric infectious diseases at UC Davis Children’s Hospital, Dean Blumberg, explains how wearing a mask can reduce the risk of infection by 65%.  Despite the fact that countless resources demonstrate how masks lead to a slower COVID-19 transmission rate, students refuse to wear their masks correctly. According to National Geographic, Gen Z wear their masks 74% of the time. Yes, this number is pretty high, but our generation can always strive to wear their masks more often. A percentage of students’ masks still sit below their noses and sometimes don’t even cover their mouth and nose. 

The point of wearing a mask is to prevent the spread of the droplets that result when a person sneezes, talks, or coughs. Wearing a mask improperly is equivalent to not even wearing a mask at all. It poses a threat to immune-compromised peers and everyone around you. All teachers and administrators sometimes do is politely redirect these students with no actual consequences. Even with that, there is a huge lack of enforcement in schools when it comes to this mandate. 

The issue with this is that these students are putting other students at risk because they can’t handle wearing a piece of cloth over their faces. Though Millard West remains a more populated school, we hold the highest amount of COVID-19 cases in the district as of October 30. According to the Millard Public schools resource for COVID-19, as of October 30, there are 18 cases in our school. With time, this number fluctuates. North now has the highest amount of cases, with 24, and West has 7 active cases as of November 4. Cases are not as bad as they were the week before, but Millard West should aim for zero cases. The numbers might seem scary, but students who do follow the guidelines and wear their masks properly shouldn’t be to blame for this.

Increasing the enforcement of masks within our school and school district would force students to follow these guidelines especially when lives are at risk. Naples Daily News explains that school districts in Florida warn their students to wear masks properly, but if the students continue to refuse to wear masks, they risk a suspension. Enforcing masks is tricky, especially since administrators can’t keep an eye on every single student. Raising the stakes for breaking this important rule might encourage students to follow it more closely. This might involve sending students home or suspensions when students refuse to wear their masks. 

Not all COVID-19 cases are transmitted directly within the walls of Millard West, but wearing a mask in this populated environment will prevent these cases from originating at our school. They might go to crowded parties or public spaces outside of school and fail to wear their masks. In these cases, it’s important to wear your masks in these environments. With this being said, it is a student’s responsibility to follow the mask mandate issued in Omaha and general social distancing guidelines outside of school to ensure the safety of their peers and teachers at school. Teachers should also remain vigilant while supervising students. Enforcing these rules will encourage students to follow these rules. The future of our school and COVID-19 depends on how seriously students take the precautions to keep people safe. Proper attention to the regulations put in place and stricter enforcement will establish a safer environment for everybody, leading to fewer cases within our school.