BLOT GRAPHIC BY AARON DIAMENT
When in-person instruction was reintroduced in Oct., it was to no surprise that all students, faculty and staff would be required to wear a mask in order to enter and stay in the building.
Up until May 13, very little had changed regarding mask-wearing; however, on that day, the CDC announced new guidance that vaccinated individuals do not have to wear masks indoors or outdoors with few exceptions, such as public transportation and hospitals. This was announced after extensive research showed that vaccinated individuals have a very low risk of transmitting the virus.
With more students getting vaccinated, accompanied by the new guidance released by the CDC, the question is posed: should students be required to wear masks at the start of the next school year?
The simple answer to this question is perhaps not. According to data provided by the New Jersey government, around 9% of students aged 16-17 are fully vaccinated and 11% have received at least one dose after only around a month of the vaccine being available to those age groups. However, based on vaccination trends, it is believed that those numbers will reach at least 65%, if not more, by Sept. Therefore, if the CDC, the government and the schooling system deem it acceptable, it would be reasonable for vaccinated students to not have to wear masks in the fall.
Unfortunately, nothing is as clear cut as that. Sept. is still a summer away and if there’s anything this virus is good at, it is unpredictability. New variants may arise, the vaccination process may come to a halt, or there may simply not be enough vaccinated students by the start of the next school year.
“It would be wonderful if everybody were vaccinated, the problem is… it’s a personal choice whether or not you want to be vaccinated,” said CHS School Nurse Dorothy Condon. “If everybody were vaccinated we would not need to wear masks. However, those who aren’t vaccinated are still at risk for getting COVID.”
While it would be thrilling for vaccinated students to be able to shed their masks in the fall, there are a few milestones that have to be reached in order to get there. If a majority of students were to get vaccinated over the course of the summer and the CDC guidelines were to remain the same, it would be safe to say that vaccinated students would be able to attend school mask-less come next fall.