California’s mask mandate in schools is be removed in less than two weeks. But what will this mean for Carlmont students and staff?
According to California Governor Gavin Newsom recent press release from February 28California, Oregon and Washington reduce the mask mandate in schools and daycares to a recommendation after March 11. homeless shelters and long-term care facilities,” according to Newsom’s statement.
Although the release may have brought relief to many, some Carlmont students are reluctant to accept the new changes.
It does not appear that the pandemic has completely stopped.
“It makes me a little uncomfortable because I prefer to wear a mask, and I prefer other people to wear [them] because it makes me feel safer,” said Olivia Sam, junior at Carlmont.
Although she admits that the state had spoken to more experts and given more thought to the matter than she had, Sam remains unsure of the situation.
“There is someone in my family who is immunocompromised, so I don’t want to expose him to [COVID-19]”Sam said. “It doesn’t look like the pandemic has completely stopped.”
However, even in the current situation, Sam has observed a split in the population of Carlmont regarding the use of masks and the practice of COVID-19 safety measures.
“[I think] it’s gonna be split because there’s a lot of people I’ve seen around that don’t wear [masks,] even indoors, but a lot of people I know personally will continue to wear [them]”Sam said.
But while Sam may prefer to continue wearing his mask for medical reasons, others, like Carlmont teacher James Bohac, are eagerly awaiting the removal of the mandate to bridge the communication gap.
“I have trouble hearing people speak through masks, and I think the ability for people to go mask-free will help the class by allowing people to communicate more effectively, so I’m excited about that aspect” , Bohac said.
While Bohac of course sees the need for some to use masks for protection, he also touched on the changing nature of COVID-19 throughout the pandemic.
“I’m not as worried as I would have been two years ago,” Bohac said. “I believe the virus has naturally degraded in its lethality… It’s a much less deadly disease now, especially with omicron.”
However, medical professionals are still approaching the situation with caution, according to emergency physician Dr. Sunil Bhopale, MD, FACEP.
“I think physicians, on the whole, are reluctant to drop the mask mandate,” Bhopale said. “The reason is that we are always worried about vulnerable populations, especially the elderly.”
Nevertheless, according to Bhopale, things are looking up. Although there were many deaths at the start of the pandemic two years ago, vaccines have slowed them considerably, especially in San Mateo County, where the the vaccination rate is relatively high.
I think the ability for people to go mask-free will help the class by allowing people to communicate more effectively.
“We are at this transition point as we move from a pandemic, where this virus can just spread without any restrictions, to now more endemic, where it is now part of the normal background of viruses that we are all exposed to,” Bhopale said. .
While the removal of the mask mandate may contribute to a higher than usual number of cases, the milder nature of the virus may help reduce pressure on the hospital system, which Bhopale says would be very beneficial. Throughout the pandemic, periodic peaks have occurred every four to five months, marked by the discovery of new variants, such as the delta or omicron variants.
“If we let things open up, and there’s no spike, that will reassure me that we’re definitely on the improving side of this pandemic, and we’re finally getting ahead “, said Bhopale. .
Removing the use of masks in schools is one thing, but eradicating all COVID-19 measures is another. Many efforts protect us apart from our masks, several of which must be preserved, according to Bhopale.
“[It would be good to] having, for example, good ventilation or keeping the windows open,” Bhopale said. “Keep students physically separated as much as possible [also] be a good idea.
He explains that after March 11, using a mask will become a personal choice. While some students may choose to continue using masks due to concerns about their safety or that of their loved ones, others may finally have the opportunity to end socialization difficulties.
At this point, I think it’s going to be an individual decision.
— Dr. Sunil Bhopale
“For some students, not being able to express themselves with their face in addition to their voice has been a real challenge, and this has led to communication issues,” Bhopale said. “A significant amount of communication, in general, is non-verbal, so it’s hard to tell it apart when someone is wearing a mask.”
Many who have had difficulty communicating with others, expressing their emotions, or making friends can rejoice in this opportunity. Others, however, may be scared or uncomfortable about changing something that’s been around for two years. For now, however, one can only anticipate life without the constant use of masks.
“At this point, I think it’s going to be an individual decision,” Bhopale said. “But I suspect that if things stay as they are, there will be a lot less masking in the fall of 2022.”