Article and Photo by Yasmine Sarraf
Students and staff members at Santa Rosa High School are now able to take off their masks indoors. The rules surrounding indoor masking changed on March 28 from “required” to “strongly recommended” after a careful decision by the Santa Rosa City Schools Board on March 9.
The decision followed Governor Gavin Newsom’s announcement in late February in which he stated that the mask mandate in California schools could be lifted after March 11 unless individual school districts decided otherwise. According to a graph presented by the CDC, nationally, the number of COVID-19 cases has dropped significantly since they spiked in mid-to-late January, which has encouraged schools to relax their safety precautions.
Although the School Board voted that the mandate should be lifted on March 14, SRCS superintendent Anna Trunnell explained in a memo sent to Panthers and Panther families that “[the Board] realized that time is needed to prepare students and staff for this transition,” and the transition was delayed until after Spring Break. Trunnell also stated, however, that beginning March 14, “if a student chooses not to wear a mask, there can be no consequence per state law.”
Some students, like freshman Devon Czahar, are glad that the mandate has been lifted. “I feel that it’s about time for the mandate to be lifted. The mask mandate, to me, is unnecessary,” said Czahar. “Whether you’re vaccinated or not, you should have the right to do whatever you want, whether it’s to wear a mask or not to wear one. I’m not wearing my mask because I simply don’t want to.”
The lifting of the mask mandate has caused some worry among some other students. “I feel a little concerned about the mask mandate being removed. I feel like we should still wear them because there are still a lot of cases,” said freshman Aranza Reyes. “Lifted or not, I will be keeping on my mask until I feel that it is safe.”
Even though the mask mandate has been lifted, SRHS is still using other mitigation strategies. Offices provide students with masks and hand sanitizer is available in every classroom. Pool testing takes place every other week. While our school and country as a whole have much to celebrate in gaining control over the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important that we continue to follow precautionary measures to keep ourselves and others safe.