Millions of students’ lives have changed completely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, throughout the past two years students at Foothill Technology High School (Foothill Tech) have been moved into distance learning, transitioned into hybrid and eventually back into in-person learning this 2021-2022 school year. Another change is soon to be made as the mask mandate for students and faculty, for both inside and outside use, will be lifted in the Ventura Unified School District (Ventura Unified) on Monday, March 14, 2022. Vaccination status will not affect whether you can remove your mask or not, all students will be allowed to remove their mask or choose to keep it on.
In an email sent out on Feb. 15, 2022, Superintendent Roger Rice explained that despite Governor Gavin Newsom lifting the California mask mandate in public spaces on the 16th, the mask mandate would continue to remain in effect for K-12 schools and Feb. 28 was the day outlined to consider lifting the mandate in schools.
In an email sent out on Feb. 28, Rice announced that the mask mandate would expire on Friday, March 11 and students would be allowed to return to school without masks on Monday, March 14. This will also apply to faculty and staff.
Dr. César Morales, the Ventura County Superintendent of Schools, stated in the email that, “even after masks become optional, anyone who wants to continue using them should feel comfortable doing so.”
Vaccination Verification will also not be required to remove a mask and students will not be asked to take a COVID-19 test either.
With this new change, there are many factors to be considered, one being that not all students want to remove their masks. In fact, a poll by UC Berkeley revealed that 61% of school parents support the mask mandate while 55% support requiring the COVID-19 vaccine in schools.
However, Russell Gibbs, Foothill Tech Principal, stated, “I do not have any concerns at this time. I think there is enough information and guidance for everyone to make the best decision for their situation.”
Gibbs explained that, “some will choose to continue to wear masks, and some will feel comfortable without one. I want to be clear that everyone’s choice in this matter will be respected. If anyone feels like they are being targeted about their mask decision, please reach out to your teacher, counselor, assistant principal or myself. We are happy to help anyone who needs it.”
In an email sent out on March 10, Gibbs wrote how the COVID-19 decision tree is still in place, meaning that if any students or staff member had any symptoms, they would be asked to stay home and use their best judgment on the situation. This can help prevent the spread of the virus, especially now that some students will be mask free.
Scientist and science teacher, Daniel Baker, shares his paired knowledge of the facts and possibilities of what will happen when this mask mandate is uplifted. Baker explains, “students taking their mask off is safe, especially if you’re vaccinated and if everyone is vaccinated there should be less of a chance of infections, taking masks off shouldn’t make too much of a difference.”
When asked about whether the mask mandate being lifted would be permanent or temporary, Baker gave his insight, “this mask mandate will most likely be permanent, I don’t believe there is any way we could go back to masking once it’s undone, unless there is some catastrophic change in the virus, but I think now with so many people vaccinated there’s no reason to go back.”
With the mask mandate being lifted there are still some precautions and safety that need to be taken in order to not spread the virus, as Baker explained that when you’re feeling sick it’s important to, “stay home, even when we are feeling sniffly like a cold we should stay home there’s this funny idea you’re weak somehow by staying home, but it’s like no, that’s actually the best thing to do for the rest of us so I believe under normal circumstances everybody should stay home if they even have a sniffle.”