MCPS mask mandate lift raises concerns on both ends

Right on the brink of summer 2021, mask mandates are being lifted across the country, with increases in vaccinations hopefully spelling the end for the COVID-19 pandemic.

Image used with permission from Google Commons

Right on the brink of summer 2021, mask mandates are being lifted across the country, with increases in vaccinations hopefully spelling the end for the COVID-19 pandemic.

Montgomery County has recently lifted restrictions to an extent and relaxed some of the rulings on mask-wearing in the county. In MCPS, masks are no longer required outdoors and despite the fact that they are still required in MCPS buildings, people who go outside to play sports, or go on walks, will no longer be required to wear masks. The CDC agrees that “if you are fully vaccinated, you can resume activities that you did prior to the pandemic.”

It’s a safe piece of legislation that helps soothe tensions among the people. Whether or not it was a good decision is yet to be seen.”

— Jack Parsons

The change in rules has  divided citizens, some concerned about their safety despite the efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine and some glad that they no longer have to wear masks. Junior Jack Parsons said,  “It’s a safe piece of legislation that helps soothe tensions among the people. Whether or not it was a good decision is yet to be seen. It could be said that they only did this to appease the angry masses who are sick of wearing masks.” 

Opinions about the mandate changes are not only focused on the discomfort of masks and the discontent of many who wear them, but also, of course, there are concerns about the safety of the masses of people who will no longer be wearing masks.  “I think that enough people may not be vaccinated to widespread lift the mask mandate, and I fear that many people who are not vaccinated will not wear masks, and just act like they’re vaccinated,” physics teacher Kristen Schwarz said. “There’s no way to tell whether or not one is vaccinated, and it’s scary to trust that many people. Don’t get me wrong, I’m tired of the masks, but they definitely serve a purpose.” 

CDC director Rochelle Walensky defended the choice to loosen mask restrictions. Walensky offers her and the CDC’s trust to the American public, saying that they are “asking people to be honest with themselves” regarding whether or not they are fully vaccinated. She also states that “it was very clear that places were starting to make their own assessments, and we wanted to make sure they understood it was safe at the individual level.” 

Despite the CDC assurances, some remain wary. “They lifted a lot of restrictions really quickly, and I just hope there’s not another surge. I think I would have waited until the little kids can get vaccinated for indoor places like stores and stuff, since people don’t stay six feet apart, and I think the masks are important until the little kids get vaccinated.”