HCPSS Lifts Mask Mandate

By Fateha Syed

As of Feb. 22 Howard County Public School System has lifted the mask mandate, making masks an optional choice for students regardless of vaccination status. 

HCPSS began requiring masks for all employees, students, and visitors in July 2021. As the Covid-19 pandemic has progressed, public health guidelines continue to emphasize the necessity of masking as a viable method for limiting Covid-19 spread and exposure. 

On July 30 Michael Martirano, Superintendent of HCPSS, announced several health and safety updates for the 2021-2022 school year, including the requirement of masks in school buildings for all students, staff, and visitors, regardless of vaccination status, beginning immediately. 

On February 22 HCPSS announced that they will no longer require universal masking. After that decision, it was up to an individual whether they wanted to wear a mask or not.

Students have had to wear a mask for a long time now, so this was a very big change after the past two years of modified school environments. When asked how they felt about it, opinions varied. 

 “Finally, about time they get rid of the mask mandate, I can finally breathe now,” said Mt. Hebron junior, Joshua Munns. 

“I like having it lifted because I like seeing people’s faces when talking to them, it’s a better way of communicating rather than when we had our masks on,” explained Mt. Hebron junior, Gene Hughes. 

“I feel like they looked into it a lot and took the decision very wisely. Personally, I feel like people that aren’t vaccinated should not be taking it off but because a good amount of people are already vaccinated then it makes sense,” said Mt. Hebron junior, Preston Henry.

While some students were in favor of the mandate being lifted, some were not. Mt. Hebron juniors, Jadyn Hughes, Aaron Abedin, and Autumn Wall had similar thoughts when asked about their opinions.

“I disagree with the mandate being lifted because covid cases are still going around and it’s not a smart decision, now that masks are not required, kids may go crazy, throw parties, and stuff which could have a very bad outcome for all of us. I also feel like the covid cases are eventually going to spike again.”

As well as students having thoughts on the lifting of the mask mandates, so do teachers. Mt. Hebron English teacher, Dr. Joelle Biele stated, “I think the decision was made by the Board of Ed. and they felt that it was going to be the best for the school system. It’s up to people if they decide to take their mask off or keep it on, I don’t think it really affects me.” 

This change was not made lightly, a number of things were looked at before making a decision. Now students are left wondering whether this decision will benefit them in the future.