Students of West debate their feelings on unmasking at school after CDC guidelines loosen for indoor activities.

With the Coronavirus pandemic reaching its two-year anniversary in recent days, the Center For Disease Control (CDC) has decided to change guidelines based on vaccination rates and transmission depending on the county. This has allowed almost all of the United States to drop mask mandates in schools and other indoor spaces. But many have been choosing to keep them on while others were ready to take them off.

Although the CDC has loosened the recommendations for COVID restrictions, some students at West High still choose to keep their masks on for a multitude of reasons. The motive most students give is to look out for people who can’t get vaccinated or are immunocompromised. As of March 13, 61.3% of Johnson County residents have received the vaccine but this still leaves almost 39% who haven’t or are unable to. This group involves children under the age of five and people whose parents won’t allow them to get the vaccine. With such a large group left unaccounted for, many think it is safer to stay masked. 

Some students have other reasons they keep their masks on. “I’m a little self-conscious about my smile so wearing a mask lets me smile with no consequences,” said Asher Overholt ’23. This feeling has students keeping their masks on not only for health reasons but also for confidence. 

On the flip side of the situation, some students are using these loosened restrictions as a chance to take off their masks. “I will not wear mine anymore, I believe Corona is now endemic,” said Landon Peoples ’24. Endemic is a term used by epidemiologists to say a disease is still present at a baseline level in the population but is becoming predictable and no longer a pandemic. This essentially means the disease or infection is not causing large outbreaks but rather smaller individual cases. Although Covid-19 is not in the endemic phase yet, there is some hope with vaccines and other distancing measures that the world can reach that point. 

Some students say masks made them feel more self-conscious, “I feel like I look ugly when I wear mine and it gives me acne,” said Luke Johnson ’23. The CDC says masks can come off depending on the circumstances at hand and many students agree mask-wearing should be circumstantial:  “In the future no I will not [wear a mask]. I think as long as cases in Johnson County stay this low I’m not putting anyone in danger,” said Eva Jordan ’23. But many students say this may change, “We need to keep looking at covid as a dynamic issue that influences our choices at a given time.”