HHS Takes on a New Mask Optional Policy

HHS+Takes+on+a+New+Mask+Optional+Policy

Gianna Rotunno, Freshman Staff Writer

For the last two years, Covid-19 has taken over the country by storm. One precaution many have taken is the implementation of wearing masks. Over time, the country has seen an influx in rules on mask wearing. At one point, it was a state-wide policy that everyone was to wear a mask whenever he/she would leave the house. However, recently some schools, including Hubbard, have decided to make masks optional based on the Ohio Department of Health and CDC current guidelines.

Hubbard switched from this mandated mask policy to a new policy called the “Mask to Stay/ Test to Play Option” per the Ohio Department of Health and the CDC. According this policy: “Direct contacts, regardless of vaccination or masking status, may remain in the classroom environment if they do the following: 

  • Wear a mask for 10 days after their last date of exposure. 
  • Self-monitor, or parent-monitor, for symptoms of COVID-19. 
  • Isolate and get tested if they start to experience symptoms associated with COVID-19 (regardless of level of severity). Direct contacts for COVID-19 are those individuals who are identified as being directly exposed.”

In addition to the “Mask to Stay” policy, student-athletes of Hubbard High are required to follow the “Test to Play” guidelines.   According to these ODH guidelines as of Jan. 26. 2022: “Asymptomatic contacts may continue to participate in extracurricular activities if they do the following:    1) Wear a mask when able. (This includes: locker rooms; sitting/standing on the sidelines; and anytime the mask will not interfere with breathing, the activity, or create a safety hazard.); 2) Test on initial notification of exposure to COVID-19. • Testing on day 5 after exposure is recommended.”

Just this past Friday (2/25), new guidelines have been announced for mask wearing on school and general transportation buses. “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revised their guidelines and no longer requires masks to be worn on buses or vans operated by public or private school systems, including early care and education/child care programs.”  Once again, all Hubbard schools are following this policy as well. 

The debut of the new mask optional policy and guidelines at Hubbard has received a pretty positive reaction among students. Many students at Hubbard are satisfied with having the option of wearing a mask in school and making their own decisions. Various students at Hubbard have chosen the option to not wear a mask like sophomore Tyler Wright who says, “It feels like relief having the option not to wear it. It makes me feel like things are going back to normal.”  Other students of Hubbard still choose to wear a mask. Emma Harley, a freshman at Hubbard explains,  “I choose to wear a mask to school because it makes me feel safer. My dad is a doctor, so I often hear about the many people that are put in hospital beds because of Covid. There were many times this year that the hospital was completely full, and they weren’t able to accept more patients. While I am fully vaccinated and have my booster, I wear a mask to school, so I don’t risk becoming one of the patients my dad has to treat.”

In addition to student opinions, on a subject like this, it’s good to hear from an administrator who has to enforce whatever guidelines are presented by the ODH.  Ms. Brandilyn Yobe, principal at HHS states: “As the principal of Hubbard High School, I can understand that there are many feelings on both sides of the mask mandates for the past two years.  I like the approach that Hubbard schools has taken for masks; it is based on our school cases.  When we had an increase, we mandated masks, and when the numbers were reduced, we pulled back the mandate and allowed our students and families to make the decisions that they felt were right for their families. This has been a rough two years for our students, and I am very happy to be back in school five days a week and having our activities/sporting events back for student participation.  We all just want normalcy! Hopefully Covid 19 will be a memory, not a continual issue in the future.  Stay strong Hubbard; this too will pass.”  

So whether one favors the mask or one prefers to remain unmasked, the best aspect is the ability to choose. All in all, the new mask optional policy is here to stay   until further guidelines come out, and it’s good that these guidelines provide a choice that wasn’t there in the past .

Sources: https://coronavirus.ohio.gov/static/responsible/schools/k-12-schools-quarantine-alternative.pdf