Written By: Ally Hoogs
Graphic By: Sav West
The semester is almost over and COVID-19 cases are still surging worldwide. The main form of protection against the spread is wearing masks, which is dependent on each individual’s discretion and discipline for correctly wearing face coverings.
At schools, the risk of exposure to COVID-19 is high. The spread of it is greatly dependent on student diligence for wearing masks correctly while in classrooms. Las Lomas policy is that students are prohibited from taking their masks off in class or enclosed spaces, but when outside, wearing masks becomes optional. Junior Isiah Cruz commented that, “Policies regarding masks are typically respected indoors, whether that be classrooms or in facilities such as the gym . . . but the policy on outdoor areas is completely ignored by everyone since there is the widespread belief that since it is no longer a closed space, there is no danger.”
There is a big grey area regarding when and where to wear a mask. A lot of times, those who don’t wear masks aren’t disciplined or noticed at all. An anonymous sophomore mentioned that in the lunch line, “A quarter of people were wearing a mask, and when there’s lots of people crowded in one area, it doesn’t sound very safe to me.” They further explained that wearing masks in the halls and in the lunch lines are not required, but that “it isn’t very safe in my opinion, when there’s that many kids shoved into the line without masks on.” The halls and lunch lines can get very crowded and although some wear their masks in line, others do not, which raises concern in the majority of Las Lomas students for an increased spread of COVID-19.
However, this apathy happens inside the classroom as well. According to a survey of Las Lomas students, conducted by The Page, an overwhelming majority mentioned that a lot of mask enforcement landed on teachers—a role that some don’t enforce. The students surveyed commented that some teachers don’t catch many students wearing their masks incorrectly, typically those who wear their masks under their noses. 47% of students surveyed disagreed with the statement that their classmates do a good job at wearing their masks. 49% of students agreed with the statement and 3% strongly agreed. In contrast, 98% of students surveyed reported that they think they do a good job wearing their masks. “Good” mask wearing would be defined as a face mask without holes covering both the mouth and nose of the wearer, but a lot of students think only covering their mouth is acceptable, especially when some teachers do not enforce good mask habits. Many students interviewed had experiences where their classmates weren’t correctly wearing a face covering, along with the teachers while they were teaching. A majority of responses mentioned that most of their teachers do a good job at wearing their masks, but some fall short of asking the students to keep theirs on at all times inside the classroom. Despite this issue, a lot of the mask mandates the school has put in place are enforced by the teachers, which is an overwhelming task when having to lecture and keep track of 25 or more students in a single classroom. This is still a huge issue at Las Lomas, as many more safety tasks are laid upon teachers- especially now during the pandemic- leaving an enforcement gap in one crucial area: mask wearing.
Freshman Sabrina Le mentioned that she feels unsafe when “kids are coughing without pulling up their masks first,” especially when in close proximity to other students. Senses of anger and irritation were expressed in the survey from student responses, as a huge amount of Las Lomas classes are concerned about greater spread of COVID-19 due to improper mask wearing. Many students are apathetic about health and safety, which is understandable as the pandemic has been ongoing for almost two years. However, right now is not the time to fight wearing a mask. Students need to hold themselves accountable in order to keep them and their classmates safe.