In compliance with their original promise, our school along with many other Texas schools have reopened in the third week of the school year. This allows students for whom online classes are impractical to attend their classes. As a part of his “Reopen Texas” plan, the Texas Governor has reinstituted several Covid-19 restrictions such as wearing mandatory masks in public areas, and schools are forced to comply with these restrictions. Our school has also put the effort into instituting their own rules to avoid infections, such as blocking off water fountains and placing hand sanitizer stations outside of all school entrances. However, the RRISD has yet to outright require that students and faculty have to wear face masks on any of their public platforms or website. Face masks should be implemented into the school dress code clearly addressed by the school.
Face masks have been mandatory in most parts of the world due to their effectiveness. Medical face masks have a thick multi-layering that prevents the spread of germs. The CDC says they should only not be used by people who do not have the physical capabilities to take them off by themselves. Schools should be more transparent with their students and faculty about the effectiveness of masks and use that as a reason to require medical face masks as part of the dress code. Although the state has made it mandatory, the school should place these regulations in big bright letters on their website for all parents and students to see. Students won’t have to go on a scavenger hunt to find these mandated restrictions in long worded documents provided by the state. Our school has already struggled with transparency in the past, such as when they provided instructions on how to use their confusing new site, Schoology, only one day before online schooling began. This mistake brought a lot of stress and confusion to both students and teachers alike. However, they need to provide clarity to public safety guidelines because it could cost someone’s life.
Covid-19 has been a problem of 2020 for over six months. As time moves along, more information about the virus and its effects on its hosts have come out, especially children. Recent case studies recorded in a journal called EClinicalMedical have shown that one post-COVID symptom in children is severe heart damage. Reports say more children are being put into the ICU. It also shows that in most cases the children did not show symptoms until it was too late. This contradicts the widespread belief that children are less at risk of Covid-19 than adults. There is also more information showing that immunocompromised individuals with diseases such as diabetes and cancer are still most at risk of contracting COVID. With all this in mind, the school should put medical face masks on the dress code to protect their immunocompromised students who may not have a choice to do online learning at home. Even non-immunocompromised students are still at risk of contracting the virus or at the very least spreading it to their family members. The most efficient and easiest way to avoid major tragedies or an increase in Covid-19 cases is to update the school dress code provided on the website.
One of the main purposes of the dress code is to protect students and ours does this by regulating revealing clothing. It also regulates hard-not-to-see items such as hats and sunglasses. So theoretically, if the school were to update the dress code to include face masks, it would be easy for faculty to point out students who are not complying. Opposition to dress code restrictions and face masks are not so different. Both parties who oppose them have used a similar argument that they prohibit personal expression and violate human rights. However, the sole purpose of face masks is to stop germs and protect others while most dress code rules protect students and faculty from seeing inappropriate clothing on an underage student. Faces masks should be part of the mandatory dress code so students returning to school will remain safe during a global pandemic as well as be assured that they won’t see anything too inappropriate from another student.
As the pandemic continues, more people have been less urgent about wearing face masks at all times in public, and it has caused recent surges of outbreaks all over the country. This is especially true in Texas, as only about 64% of Texans are wearing face masks at all times. As a result, more COVID cases have come out, and lockdown restrictions have been reimplemented. Understandably, the school wants to please all parents during this stressful period of online schooling. However, by not making it clear to both pro-maks and anti-mask parents that the state has required masks to be worn by everyone on their campus on easy access platforms like on their school website, it puts everyone at risk and could cause another massive surge of cases. Our school could be better than other schools that don’t regulate masks or offer online classes like the ones in Georgia and prevent student infections. All it would take is a simple update to the public dress code and a big message on the front of their website stating what is mandatory for in-person classes during the pandemic. Transparency from the school will save a lot of confusion and possibly lives.