Mask mandates cause stress

Despite the increase in Delta Variant cases, many states have eased COVID-19 restrictions. Some, including Arizona, have gone so far as to restrict mask mandates in schools, and to fight the Biden Administration about requiring vaccinations in larger organizations. As of October 27, school districts in Arizona can enact their own mask and vaccine mandates.


While groups spar over the efficacy of masks and vaccinations, medical professionals are speaking up about the need for both.
“A large overarching ban by the state on the ability to require masks takes away the ability for smaller groups to make decisions on the topic specific to their needs and the work that they do,” said a nurse, who wishes to remain anonymous.
Where it Began
Since the Delta Variant hit, the United States has experienced a dramatic spike in positive cases, due to the highly contagious nature of this mutation of COVID-19. According to The New York Times, 100,000 confirmed cases were reported for the first time since February.
There are multiple reasons as to why this increase occurred. For one, the United States had already lifted mask mandates back in March, making it difficult for people to go back to the original policies. As well as fewer people wearing masks, there are less individuals getting vaccinated. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, clinical trials show all three of the COVID-19 vaccines are effective in preventing serious illness, hospitalization, and even death.
Hitting Close to Home
Doug Ducey, Governor of Arizona, has issued new mask mandates regarding COVID-19. According to the Office of the Governor, Arizona does not permit mask mandates, vaccine mandates, and vaccine passports. While many agree with the mask mandates in place, others are seeing this as the Biden-Harris administration avoiding their responsibilities concerning the pandemic.
While Arizona has become lenient regarding masks, Arizona officials are strongly urging the state to get vaccinated. As of now, 50.9% of Arizona is fully vaccinated.
“I think that each individual person should be able to decide if they would like to wear a mask or not, especially with the vaccine, so I think suggesting it is better than requiring it,” said Katelyn Wible, a senior.
Black and White
Whether an individual is pro-mask, or anti-mask, there is no question that this discourse has created a great divide not just in Arizona, but in the country. Both sides claim to have strong reasons for their positions, which leads to much heated debate. Since the changing of rules and regulations regarding COVID-19, there have been protests in schools, streets, and in the workplace.
In schools, parents have become vocal about what they want for their children, causing certain districts to gain, or lose students. A statewide survey conducted by the Arizona Republic revealed 59% of parents opposed legislation from prohibiting mask mandates, and the other 37.5% supported the measure. As for requiring masks, 57% of parents believe they should, and 40.8% disagree.
On Campus Mandates
Here on campus, Cactus Shadows has completely disregarded mask mandates for students, regardless of vaccination status. Ducey’s 163 million dollar grant program to schools that do not enforce masks, is partially the reason why masks are not enforced at the school. Of course, if a student feels more comfortable wearing a mask, they have every right to do so.
Cactus Shadows is currently following steps provided by Maricopa County Department of Public Health. When a student is exposed to another student positive with COVID-19, they will receive an automated message alerting them of their exposure. For vaccinated students, quarantining is optional, while unvaccinated students are required to quarantine for ten days, and show proof of a negative test.
Who Can We Trust?
After the different vaccines were released, many questioned their effectiveness and safety. The first vaccine to come out was Pfizer. Making its debut in December of 2020, quicker than many anticipated. Because of this, many feared it was rushed and non-reliable because it was not approved by the FDA in the beginning. Although the FDA approved the Pfizer vaccine in August of 2021, many are still refusing to take the vaccine.
According to The New York Times, roughly eighty-five million Americans who are eligible for the vaccine are not getting it, but with President Biden’s new vaccine mandate issued in September, this could change. Biden has begun pushing individuals to get vaccinated by requiring the vaccine to all companies with over 100 employees. If not vaccinated, the alternative is weekly testing for COVID-19. According to The New York Times, President Biden has legal authority to enforce these requirements.
“I think that it’s kind of just like school where you have to have certain vaccinations. I just think this should be one that should be included, especially once it gets opened up to younger ages,” said Kiera Reinhard, a senior.
Even just over two years since the United States went on lock down, there is still heavy debate on how to handle the pandemic while keeping everyone’s safety and individual freedoms in mind.