Mask Mandate at Franklin High School

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Face Mask (Creative Commons)

Anna Hoffmann, Writer

The 2021 to 2022 school year is well underway. Public schools in the United States are chock-full of students, bustling hallways, and swarming cafeterias. Students and staff alike are no longer separated by six feet. However, unfortunately, the Covid-19 virus is as well underway as the current school year is. Of course, vaccinations have become readily available, treatment for Covid-19 has improved, and cases are falling. Google Meets have become a practically nonexistent area of academic lives. Progress has been made. Still, the virus remains a threat. There is no cure, it can still spread, and we need to be cautious of the new strains and variants. This means mask mandates have become typical for most public schools. Franklin High School students, and public school students in general, have become somewhat fed up with required mask-wearing. As a result, it has become a political, contentious issue in the United States. Overall, the Franklin High School community, school communities in general, have been left to wonder: when will it end? 

The Franklin High School community was first told by the state that mask mandates in Massachusetts public schools would end on October 1st. Then it was pushed back to  November 1st. Most recently, it was pushed back to January 15th. However, for Franklin High School, the end of the mask mandate may be coming sooner than that. Franklin High School has applied for a waiver from the state because over 80% of the FHS community is vaccinated. Once the state approves the waiver, the school committee may approve it. If they do so, masks will be optional at high school. However, this is only a trial. If wearing masks at school becomes optional and Covid-19 cases increase to a certain rate -the rate is to be decided upon by the school committee and the administration – masks will become mandatory again. 

Regarding the controversy towards mask mandates, Mr. Hanna stressed the importance of, “protecting our liberty but also protecting our safety.” He said mask mandates in school settings are an example of: “the balance of the history of the United States. We want enough laws to keep everyone safe, but we don’t want too many because that infringes on our freedoms.” Mr. Hanna remarked, “this is nothing new to our country.” He personally believes in following the standards of the setting he is in. Mr. Hanna commented, “for me, personally, I go about whatever the expectations of the environment I am in. I think if we all do that it is a lot more of a peaceful existence.” Mr. Hanna did note that “the school has the capability and the right to extend its arm a little further than  what the constitution would suggest.” However, he stressed the “right to extend its arm a little further” only came with “the agreement of the community.”  He gave the example of the school committee. According to Mr. Hanna, the school committee is “representative of the larger community.” Mr. Hanna said that if a town is “particularly leaning one way or the other that tends to be seen in the school committee. No matter your opinion on the constitutionality of the mask mandate, you can rest assured it will be ending soon.

Face Mask (Creative Commons)