Students have mixed opinions on masks

Ally Little, Reporter

Since 12:01 p.m. Friday, July 3, 2020 masks have been required in all Texas counties. This was until March 2, 2021 when Governor Greg Abbott issued an executive order (GA-34). This order not only lifted the mass mandate in Texas, but it increased the capacity of all businesses and facilities in the state to 100 percent. 

That did not mean that all businesses lifted their mask requirement. Some big-name businesses such as Walmart and Target continued to make masks a requirement. Many businesses however do leave it up to their customers to decide whether or not they choose to wear a mask. With everyone seeming to be split on their opinions on mask-wearing, it was worth finding out how some of our Warrior students and staff land on this spectrum of mask-wearing. 

Junior Livvy Monk was proactive in keeping herself and those close to her safe when it came to the virus.  

“I did wear a mask before it was required,” Monk said. “Something like Covid had never happened before so I didn’t want to take any chances.”

When it came to the mask mandate being lifted, Monk was among many who couldn’t help but take it personally.

“I think the mask mandate being lifted is selfish,” Monk said. “Not only is it going to put tons of people at risk, but I lost theater to people who wouldn’t wear masks. Sports have gotten games and practices and more this year even though they don’t wear masks during games, but I’ve gotten three separate shows taken away this year because of Covid, and if people had just worn their masks and listened to health officials, maybe my junior year would have been a little more normal.”

Despite some businesses lifting their mask requirements, some have kept them in place and Monk has nothing but good to say about those establishments.

“Other businesses requiring masks are geniuses because obviously, Texas doesn’t want to do much to keep us safe, so it’s up to the stores and restaurants to keep us in check,” Monk said.

Monk said she does not see herself going maskless in any near future.

“Until Covid is gone, I will continue to wear a mask in businesses and restaurants,” Monk said. “There are still people out there who can’t fully experience life because they are high risk. How selfish is it of me to go out and act like everything is normal for me when there are still people who haven’t left their houses because they physically cannot?”

Monk said she knows that the Covid vaccine will not change her opinion either.

“Being vaccinated doesn’t mean I’ll be cured or completely immune to Covid,” Monk said. “It means I’ve done my part in the healing process and that I will be lucky enough to be less at risk.”

At the end of the day, Monk said she truly just wants the best for everybody and holds no ill will toward those who were able to do more than her throughout this pandemic.

“There was so much that so many people missed out on this year because people just couldn’t wear a mask,” Monk said. “I am not going to be a part of the problem but rather the solution. Even though sports got a lot this year and theatre missed out on nearly everything, I wouldn’t wish it upon on to go through what I went through. I have no problems with wearing a mask considering I work nine-hour shifts outside serving people with one on. I just want everything to have a better chance of being normal and if that means wearing a mask then so be it.”

Senior Rian MacBride was also among the many who chose to wear their mask before they became required.

“I think I started wearing one when it was found out the virus was airborne,” MacBride said. “That was really before it became really bad and was discovered how transmissible it is.”

MacBride said he is among many who feel the mandate being lifted is not the smartest of ideas.

“I think it’s dumb and stupid and completely irresponsible,” he said. “Texas is doing better than it was, but it is still far from over and lifting the mandate when we are so close to the end is not only incredibly stupid and irresponsible, it just doesn’t make any logical sense. If we are almost there, why would we stop the precautions that are causing us to do better? It’s like needing crutches for a broken foot for two months but stop using them a month in because, ‘Well I am doing better!’ Yeah! You are doing better because of the crutches, why would you stop using them now when you are so close?!”

When asked how he felt about the businesses that are still requiring masks, MacBride gave nothing but good words.

“Good! Good on them for keeping the mandate,” MacBride said. “When I see someone not wearing a mask in a public store when it’s required, I have a strong desire to punch them in the face. And I wouldn’t feel bad about it. If the governor of our state isn’t going to worry about our safety, I am glad some stores are at least trying to keep us safe.”

MacBride said he does not see himself going into any establishment without a mask whether required or not.

“I will, for the time being wear a mask in both business and restaurants,” MacBride said. “Until I am vaccinated and a good majority of the populous is vaccinated, and it is very very clear that cases and deaths are at a low, I’ll more than likely keep wearing it.”

Even with the vaccine, MacBride said he does not seem convinced to go without the mask.

“I’ll feel a bit better when I see some idiot not wearing one, but until things are very very good, I will more than likely keep wearing one regularly,” MacBride said. “I am on the list, but I can imagine I am fairly low on the list.”

Even without the mandate, MacBride continues to wear a mask despite his feeling toward masks.

“Masks suck, but it’s a small price to pay,” MacBride said.

MacBride, along with many others, said he looks forward to a time when things go back to something resembling normal.

“I, along with everyone, will be so happy when this is all over,” MacBride said. “I just hope people don’t get lazy with the virus when we are so close to the end.”

AP U.S. history teacher Olivia Basham was very quick to pull out her masks when the virus started getting closer to home.

I had some on hand when everything went down because I use them when I do yard work sometimes,” Basham said. “I also immediately started sewing more.”

Basham takes a very professional approach in expressing her opinion on the mandate being lifted in general.

“I think it’s premature,” Basham said. “Ultimately, it’s shifting the responsibility to businesses, which can cause conflict between individual customers and employees, which can then lead to violence, as we saw last year.”

Basham said she believes businesses need to consider more than just their own feelings on the issue.

“I think they have a legal and moral responsibility to protect their employees,” Basham said. 

For Basham, it comes down to just more than people being tired of having to wear their masks.

“For me, it’s a matter of respect,” Basham said. “Until vaccines are widely available, I choose to not possibly expose others.  As a person with a chronic health condition, I would not wish even the smallest risk of that on anyone when the personal sacrifice to myself to prevent it is so incredibly small.”

Even though Basham has many worries of her own pertaining to the vaccine, she wants to make sure to make all of those as at ease as possible.

“I have been fully vaccinated since the end of February,” she said. “This means I am highly unlikely to transmit Covid even if I were to have a breakthrough infection which is also unlikely, the risk is not zero though and no one knows my vaccinated status by just looking at me. Better to be safe and make that readily obvious to the people I interact with until vaccines are available to everyone who wants one, in my opinion. People shouldn’t have to worry about their kid’s health when they are just trying to do their jobs to feed those same kids.  The stress of that must be crippling.  I am not going to add to that if I can avoid it. That day is coming very soon anyway.”

Basham said that even though there may be some positives about the masks, it is not something she chooses to wear for fun.

“I’m going to admit here that I think they can look cool, but they do make me work a little harder to breathe and that I don’t love that sensation, so I’m going to be pretty happy to put mine away, adorable and fun as some are,” Basham said.

Basham said she has faith in the process and is hopeful when speaking about our near future.

This is all going to be over soon,” Basham said. “Once vaccines are widely available, and we are very close to that now, masks will no longer be an issue.”

Assistant principal Steve Smith, along with many others, took to wearing a mask as soon as he started going out in public, even without the mandate.

“At the beginning of the pandemic, we stayed home for about a month,” Smith said. “Once we started to get out of the house, I would wear a mask when in a public place.”

Smith said he has put his faith in science when it came down to his opinion on the mandate being lifted.

“I trust that science has led us to a place where it is safe to continue life as usual without a mask mandate in place,” Smith said. “At this point, I believe it should be an individual’s choice.”

Smith said he respects individual businesses ’ rights to still require masks.

“For privately-owned businesses, they certainly have the right to require mask-wearing,” Smith said. “If they suggest mask-wearing, I believe that it is the individual’s right to choose whether they wear a mask.”

Even though Smith said he would not choose on his own to wear a mask when it’s not required, he put how others feel above himself when it comes down to it.

“I only wear a mask when it is mandated by the business,” Smith said. “If I were with a group of people that would feel safer if I wore a mask, I would out of respect for them.”

Having had his own brush with the virus, Smith said he respects the fears of others, while also having faith that his lifestyle will keep him healthy.

“I had COVID in December,” he said. “I was fortunate in that I did not have to deal with any upper-respiratory issues. Knowing that I have the antibodies and the fact that I lead a healthy lifestyle with respect to diet and exercise gives me some peace of mind. However, I understand that others may not feel the same way and I respect their concerns.”

Junior Sara Ame said she had no problems with wearing a mask far before they were required for herself and others.

“I did wear a mask before,” Ame said. “I just felt safer knowing that I was doing my part and protecting not only myself but those around me.”

Ame said she thinks that the mask mandate being lifted seems to be improperly timed, and may have some repercussions because of that.

“I believe the mask mandate being lifted will cause an increase in Covid cases,” Ame said. “Although the vaccine is out, I still believe we need that extra layer of protection in order to avoid a second wave of the virus.”

Ame said she respects the boldness of some businesses in their decision to, despite the mandate, continue requiring masks.

“I believe that business continuing to require masks is respectable and not an easy thing for them to do,” Ame said. “Many people, especially in Texas, believe they are anti-mask therefore business deciding to enforce them will obviously cause a conflict, although their income might decrease they have the good conscience of knowing that they did their part in protecting this country.”

Even when not required, Ame said she still plans on masking up.

“I will continue to wear a mast in businesses, and restaurants, even for those that still and don’t require it,” Ame said. “I will still wear one to have a clear conscience. I will continue to wear a mask even after being vaccinated, I registered to get vaccinated but I still believe that masks add an extra layer of protection.”

For Ame, the masks mean more than just protecting herself and those around her.

“At the beginning of the pandemic I wore a mask solely for the purpose of health,” Ame said. “As we moved along and I heard of the mask mandate being fired, I realized that I unconsciously added that the mask hides my insecurities. When out I believe that no one can tell if I am me because they can’t see my face.”