To Mask or not to Mask

Laura Pohl and Ashlyn Hoffmann

The Omicron variant is the latest culprit for the spread of COVID-19. In late December 2021, cases significantly picked up after the variant hit the East coast and began to surge across the country. It peaked around Jan. 9, 2022 with 17,252 new cases in Maryland-nearly five times the previous peak in Dec. 2020. Since then, numbers have drastically dropped in not only Baltimore county, but across Maryland. Many students and staff of Dulaney High tested positive with the new variant over winter break, resulting in Baltimore County Public Schools (BCPS) to reconsider the safety of in person learning. Lifting the mask mandate began to feel so far out of reach. Despite this, masks are now optional as of March 1, 2022.

A lot has changed since we returned to school after winter break and a week of virtual learning. Students and staff grew concerned if we would be returning virtual for longer. Surprisingly, BCPS was able to keep their overall case count down and just two months later, the mask mandate was removed. As of Tuesday, March 1, 2022, all BCPS staff and students are allowed to choose whether or not to wear their masks. 

Many students are happy about the mask removal and the hope it shows for moving towards our post-COVID lives, whereas others are concerned that it might be a little too soon. 

Although the mask mandate has been taken away, it doesn’t mean students are not allowed to wear masks. Masks are still effective in reducing the spread of COVID and protecting your classmates’ high risk family or friends. We know of families that are high risk and although vaccinated and boosted, COVID still poses a substantial medical threat to them. For the people that are concerned that it might be too soon, continue to wear your mask until you feel the cases are low enough.

Since everything is still up in the air with cases and the severity of the virus, there is a chance that with the removal of masks, cases could spike again, resulting in the return of the mask mandate. We don’t know what the future will hold for COVID progressions, but it’s important that everyone knows that the virus is still out there, and masks should still be worn if you are in a high risk situation or think you might be infected.

Although it is important to keep COVID cases down, it is also important that as a community, we move towards a future without pandemic stresses once again. So now the question becomes, is it too soon or is it time to begin moving forward? Only time will tell.