Student opinions mixed on end of state mask mandate


Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Gov. Tom Wolf announced Monday that the statewide school mask mandate will be lifted on Jan. 17. The decision on masks will be turned over to local school officials.

Purbalite Staff

Baldwin students had mixed opinions Tuesday about Governor Wolf’s decision to allow each school district to decide whether to keep mask mandates in place starting in mid-January.

Currently, a statewide mandate from early September requires students and staff to mask up regardless of vaccination status. On Monday, Wolf announced that on Jan. 17, the state mandate will end and it then will be up to each school district to decide whether to require masks.

Wolf’s announcement came following approval of the Covid-19 vaccine for younger children, and as case numbers have dropped. 

Supt. Dr. Randal Lutz said the district’s priority always has been to do whatever it takes to have students in their schools for classes.

“As superintendent, I have never been for or against masks,” Lutz said. “I have consistently been an advocate to have children back in school, in person, full time. With the rules in place around quarantine and close contact, etc., masks were really the only way to not have to quarantine large numbers of children when a student with COVID would be in the building.”

The announcement of the Jan. 17 end of the state mandate brings with it additional questions, Lutz said.

“With the Governor’s announcement, any update regarding how a close contact is defined has not happened as of yet.  I have reached out to Harrisburg to attempt to get clarity on this matter but have not heard back as of yet,” he said. “I want children to be able to remain in school as many days as possible.  In some ways, the governor’s announcement adds as many questions as it answers.”

In regards to the Jan. 17 end of the state mandate, junior Michael Leonhardt said the move was understandable.

“I think Wolf’s decision to end the mandate was a necessary one given the amount of backlash masks have received,” Leonhardt said. “If Baldwin lifts the mask mandate, I will not be wearing my mask to school.”

Senior Lucas Shandor is optimistic about the possibility of not having to wear a mask at some point, but he is not overly bothered by wearing one currently.

“Whatever happens, happens,” Shandor said. “They’re not great to wear, but if I have to wear them I will. It’s just something I can’t control.” 

I don’t know if it is the right step, but we will see how it goes over time because it is impossible to predict.”

— Brady Zofcin

However, given the option, Shandor said he’d leave his mask at home. 

“I wouldn’t wear a mask if it was up to us,” he said. “Plus … since I’m vaccinated I feel safe enough to go without one.” 

Junior Kay Lindenfelser said Wolf’s mask mandate was reasonable, but she is finally tired of masks and would be fine with eventually not wearing them. 

“I think it would be a good thing because we haven’t been able to go to school without a mask since freshman year. It has been too long and I finally think it is time for masks to not be worn in school,” Lindenfelser said. 

Freshman Chloe Griffiths said that lifting the mask mandate would be a sign that the country is moving forward as Covid conditions are improving. 

“The mask mandate has been appropriate because there are a lot of people in the school building and it has helped in keeping us safe so far,” Griffiths said.

If given the option, however, Griffiths said she would not wear her mask, though she understands why others still would.

Junior Brady Zofcin believes Wolf’s decision is a step forward. 

“I don’t know if it is the right step, but we will see how it goes over time because it is impossible to predict,” Zofcin said. “If I do not have to wear a mask, then I am not going to wear it. But I don’t care if someone does or does not wear a mask. It doesn’t affect me.” 

Junior Riley Delallo has mixed feelings about Wolf’s decision.

“While lifting the mandate would feel like a step closer to things being normal again, it should only be lifted if everyone has been fully vaccinated,” she said. 

Delallo wouldn’t wear a mask if given the choice, but believes that others should do whatever they feel is appropriate.

“I do think that it would be a little more unsafe if we lifted the mandate,” Delallo said. 

Junior Cameryn Rosswog said she is not in favor of the decision to lift the mandate. 

“I feel like I feel safer with everyone having their masks on,” Rosswog said. 

Rosswog said she’s excited to see everyone’s faces, but wearing and seeing everyone with a mask on has become a normal for her.

“I wear mine everywhere,” Rosswog said.

Even though she is vaccinated, she will continue wearing her mask to make her feel safe.