BOE votes to make masks optional beginning Nov. 29

Macy Kennedy, Staff Writer

Following trends amongst other area school districts, Blue Valley has decided to revoke its mask mandate in high schools. Masks will be optional after Nov. 29 for all high school staff, students and visitors. The school board voted 6-1 during their meeting on Nov. 8 to change the mask policy.

Reactions to this decision vary. Some feel excited for this choice to have been made while others believe that the decision was not made with enough information backing it. 

Junior Adam Stone said he believes the district has made the right decision for the people within it, and agrees with the terms which it has proposed.

“I definitely think that it’s the right decision to make,” Stone said. “A lot of [students] feel comfortable without a mask and don’t want to wear them.”

On the other side of this equation, many feel as though the school environment is no longer a safe place for those with concerns to their health and safety. 

Senior Ben Ziegelman said this decision lacks basic regard toward science and is missing a clause highlighting the vaccination status of the population. 

“This decision is premature assuming the lack of a vaccine mandate,” Ziegelman said. “Had the rule accounted for [vaccination status] I would understand, but I don’t think that this decision reflects the shifting scientific trends and research.” 

The vaccination status of students and staff is a concerning issue for many. Junior Cecile Cornthwaite said she believes most people who will not be wearing a mask will most likely also not be vaccinated.

“As we can already tell, the people who don’t want to wear masks are already not wearing them,” Cornthwaite said. “Above all, I think that we should prioritize vaccination among students because it seems as though the people who aren’t wearing masks probably aren’t vaccinated, which is less than ideal for their safety and the safety of others.” 

Despite conflicting opinions, the general consensus must be one of respect for the choices made by others, even if one does not approve of them. 

“Even if you don’t agree with the choice that someone else is making, it doesn’t give you reason to be disrespectful,” Ziegelman said. “In this time of difficulty, it is important to trust others in making the decision that is best for them.”