Officially Unmasking?

Are things finally going back to normal?

One of the most controversial topics of 2020 and early 2021 is undoubtedly masks. On both sides of the issue there are many strong and differing opinions. This issue has trickled down from the Center of Disease Control, through states, counties and schools. Recently, Bigfork School District had a board meeting in which they discussed the hot topic. In a four to three vote, with the support of many parents, the district will remove their mask mandate effective March 15th. However, after a negotiations meeting with the teachers union, their decision was postponed until April 6th. The board hopes this will give those at risk a chance to be vaccinated. And if worst comes to worst, students and teachers alike will have time to prepare for going remote. 

   Despite the date being pushed, this news still comes at a staggering cost for some. 14 percent of parents are uncomfortable with the situation and would request for their students to go virtual. While 18 percent of teachers would request to go online. Some teachers at Bigfork Schools risk unlying health conditions. Elise Van Valkenburg, a Bigfork middle school science teacher who is pregnant, says, “If I were to contract the virus, there is a chance of stillbirth and other complications. Therefore, per my doctor’s orders, I will be remote teaching from my house due to the lifting of the mask mandate.”

   This statement is corroborated by Lillian Peterson, a junior who is type one diabetic. Peterson states, “Lifting the mask mandate is definitely a deterrent for me to return to school. If I did I would wear a mask anyway, and my family would only consider sending us back to school if we are fully vaccinated.”

   Other teachers are more concerned about the health of others, high school math teacher Josh Feller explains, “I plan on continuing to wear my mask in order for my family to be able to spend time with our family. My mother-in-law is fighting cancer, so in order to see her and keep her safe, I will continue to wear my mask.”

   However, on the opposing side there are many who are excited to be free of masks. 62 percent of parents are willing to send their children to school without masks. 

   Of those students still willing to come is sophomore Avery Wender. “Masks gave me huge headaches, so I’ll be glad to be rid of that. But I understand some people have concerns and would be willing to wear one for them.” she says. 

   Trustee Zack Anderson explained to The Daily Inter Lake “It’s time for our district to begin leading ourselves out of this pandemic and this is the beginning of it.” Following the release of the state mask mandate many are hopeful that things will begin to go back to normal as vaccines are distributed and more events are held.

   In this divided time, regardless of political and personal opinions, the district and the CDC ask for continual consideration for fellow individuals comfort and safety. 

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