School mask mandates dropped on March 2


Sowa Joarder

Students leave school at the end of the day in early March after the mask mandate is lifted. Many students chose to not wear masks, while others decided to keep them on.

Jenna Rowen-Delson

New York Governor Kathy Hochul announced plans to end the state mask mandate in schools starting Wednesday, March 2. Students can still choose to wear masks in school, and wearing masks could still be required in schools in counties and cities with higher transmission rates.

According to Governor Hochul’s website, “New York has the highest rate of adults fully vaccinated for COVID-19, the highest rate of teenagers fully vaccinated for COVID-19, and the second-highest rate of children ages 5-11 fully vaccinated” among large states. New York State has experienced a 98 percent decline in COVID-19 cases since the Omicron peak

“Because New Yorkers have stepped up, we can confidently remove the mask mandate,” said Hochul. 

 On March 1, Monroe-Woodbury Superintendent Elsie Rodriguez emailed a letter to Monroe-Woodbury students, families, and staff, reminding them schools will go mask optional on March 2. 

She encouraged families to have thoughtful conversations about the decision to wear a mask, and said, “As a school community, we must be respectful, compassionate and understanding of this personal decision.”

Multiple announcements were made by Monroe-Woodbury staff reminding students about the change in mask policy. Teachers made sure to emphasize the need to be respectful of other students’ decisions, to do what makes you feel comfortable, and many noted that they wouldn’t judge students based on their decision. 

More Monroe-Woodbury High School students have opted not to wear masks, but most people say they were initially surprised at how slim the number was in comparison to people wearing masks.

Some, including Monroe-Woodbury High School Security Guard Liz Nadal expressed concern for the changed mandate. While excited to see students’ faces, Nadal says, “People assume COVID no longer exist, start to assemble large groups again without protecting themselves and others so COVID might become a pandemic again.”

Nadal said she plans on wearing her mask, but says she likes the fact that she has the option of wearing it or not.

Freshman Jillian Calub also shares mixed views while still opting to wear a mask.

“I think that there are both good and bad parts of this decision. The number of cases have gone down, but it is not like the virus is gone. There are also people who are still unvaccinated which could become more of an issue if people are unmasked,” Calub said.

When asked why she was still wearing a mask, Calub said, ““I still want to wear a mask because…it’s not like the virus is gone. There is still a chance I could get it and spread it, and the chances are higher if I don’t wear a mask.”

Freshman Elizabeth Levine says that on one hand, taking masks off means a step in the direction of getting back to normal, but on the other hand, she’s not prepared for the mask mandate to go away so soon. Levine was happy about the change, but didn’t seem to think it would last very long.

Many students’ decision to wear or not wear a mask has nothing to do with the pandemic, but rather peer pressure or fear of judgment. 

Juniors Catelyne Mayer and Julianna Martucci walked into school with the full intention of wearing their face masks. But by the second period, both Martucci and Mayer had removed their face coverings. Both of them say that COVID-19 had nothing to do with the decision, but rather peer pressure and judgment.

Student Delila Martinez says, “People feel scared of not taking off their masks because they are afraid of comments.”

Junior Fa Yi Zang is adamant about keeping the mask on.

“Everyone has their own opinion, but I think that removing the masks is exposing everyone to the virus and making them vulnerable. I am deciding to keep wearing a mask because that is the safest option to do. This policy might increase the COVID cases because kids are now more exposed than they were before and I think masks will be mandated again in the future,” said Zang.

On the March 10, 2022 COVID-19 report, no high school students had a reported case of the virus.