Vaccine United

Opinion: School Mask Mandate to End, but at What Cost?

By: Vaccine United Staff

Monday, March 7 will mark the first day with no official mask mandate in New Jersey schools. School districts will, instead, have the ability to set their own rules and guidelines on masking.

Ostensibly, the change is in response to declining infection, death, and hospitalization rates. However, it is hard to ignore the outsized role political pressure has played in the discussion surrounding masks and their use as a public health tool.

The question many parents are asking is, if masks had such a large effect on bringing down COVID numbers, is it really wise to eliminate such an effective tool right now? Isn’t this akin to telling the passengers of a moving car that they can take off their seatbelts simply because they passed by a major accident that didn’t involve them?

More specifically, many parents, especially those of children with greater risk factors for infection, are concerned with protecting individuals. Cloth masks have long been touted as a tool primarily for protecting those around the wearer by containing large droplets exhaled – and are much less effective at protecting the wearer from smaller airborne particles. By that logic, removing the masks from low-risk children immediately and dramatically increases the infection risk for their more vulnerable classmates – which was precisely why the mandate was put in place to begin with.

As with everything COVD-related, there are no easy answers. To continue the above metaphor, some individuals go their whole lives never wearing a seatbelt and never face a consequence. For the many who do, however, there is rarely a chance to tell others that their decision was a mistake.

Only time will tell.