Mask mandates in FCPS less debated than in other districts


Infographic by Mahati Thiyagarajan.

105 Students were polled on Nov. 22.

Mahati Thiyagarajan, Staff Writer

Many states do not require masks in public, but some changed their mask mandate after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC) guidelines came out in May. According to CDC, people who are vaccinated are not required to wear masks in public. However, since vaccines were only just made available to ages 5 to 11, school boards across the U.S. made masks mandatory near the beginning of the school year. 

Whether students and teachers are vaccinated or not, Virginia requires all to wear masks in schools, according to the Washington Post. These mandates stirred controversy over whether or not children should be required to wear masks, especially among parents of students in other states. 

In Westford, New Jersey, parents of students protested that their children should be given the choice to wear their mask or not. Many parents also believed children shouldn’t be required to wear their mask at all since children have higher recovery rates from COVID-19 compared to adults.

“The fact that children, who are at the lowest risks for COVID, have to wear masks, is outrageous,” sophomore Joshua Lugo said. “Health officials make them wear [masks] because it’s a good symbol for the community.”

According to The Morning Call, parents of students attending schools in Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania are concerned that the effects of wearing masks can result in a negative consequence on their children, physically and mentally. According to Quay Health, masks can affect those with previous respiratory health conditions due to shortness of breath. The Virginia Department of Health says that masks are not required outside if vaccinated. If vaccination has not been administered, masks need to be worn both inside and outside.

“While cases are still rising, it’s good that we are doing all we can to prevent exposure,” sophomore Varna Selvakumar said. “However, at some point masks should be a choice.”

On Aug. 27, the Florida Department of Health and the Department of Education lifted mask mandates and allowed parents to decide for their children. According to CNN, Both Florida’s Board of Education and the Department of Office of Civil Rights (OCR) questioned whether the mask ban discriminated against students with disabilities and gave an equal opportunity for education, including those who have underlying health conditions.

According to FCPS, schools are allowing students with disabilities to not wear masks if they have proof from a physician that it is necessary due to a health condition.

“The choice [to wear masks] should always be for parents and students,” Lugo said.

FCPS requires staff to be vaccinated and for students and staff to wear masks at all times. According to the Fairfax County Federation of Teachers, teachers who are not vaccinated must be tested for covid weekly. Contrary to the controversy in other states, 105 CHS students were polled, 85% think that masks should be worn in school and 55% think that masks should not be required during physical activity.

“High school students are role models in their communities, especially for younger [students],” Selvakumar said. “As a result, high schoolers have the responsibility to demonstrate proper behavior and safety precautions.”