Student Body’s Thoughts on the Mask Mandate

Priya Kommu, Staff Writer

Since the start of the pandemic, masks have been a controversial subject. Many people are in support of wearing masks, but others question the effectiveness of masks in stopping or slowing the spread of COVID-19. Mayo Clinic says that masks combined with other preventative measures such as getting vaccinated, frequent hand washing, and social distancing prove to be effective in slowing the spread of COVID-19. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) suggests that unvaccinated people continue to wear masks both indoors and outdoors when the risk of transmission of the virus is high. Places where the risk of transmission is high in the outdoors include crowded events and gatherings, such as sporting events or concerts.

The CDC has also recommended what types of masks are most effective. Masks that the CDC recommends wearing include: medical procedure masks (surgical or disposable masks), masks with two or more layers, tightly woven cloth masks, KN95 masks, masks with filter pockets, and masks that fit snugly on the face. These masks recommended by the CDC have been proven to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Masks not recommended by the CDC may not be as effective at stopping the spread of COVID-19. 

Over the summer Fauquier County decided to be mask optional for the upcoming 2021-2022 school year. This decision was met with a mixed response; many were happy to be given the choice and others were worried about the health risks posed by going maskless. Many counties surrounding Fauquier County have mandated masks, including Fairfax and Prince William Counties. The 2021-2022 school year began on August 11th, and on August 13th Governor Northam released a statement mandating masks for all K-12 schools, after just two days of being mask optional. However, this new mandate also came with exceptions. Students are able to get either a religious or medical exemption to wearing masks.

Students provided good input when asked for their thoughts regarding the new mandate. “I think that the mask mandate was a good step toward a return to normal,” one senior said regarding the new mask mandate for K-12 schools. When asked whether masks are something that should be mandated or left more to personal choice, they said, “I believe personal choice is important, but masks are something that should be enforced for the safety of everyone.” Several other students agreed with this sentiment. “We (all) have to do our part to not get someone else sick,” said one junior. Many students believe that it is their civic responsibility to wear a mask to help slow the spread of COVID-19. “I would wear one even if it wasn’t optional,” one student said. In direct response to the mandate enforced by Governor Northam, another senior said, “I think the mandate part is good, but the exceptions make it difficult to enforce,” referencing the exceptions mentioned earlier.  

On the other hand, some students are unhappy with the new mandate. One had nothing good to say about the new mandate. “Governor Northam is an idiot for mandating masks in K-12 schools. Masks are extremely distracting and hinder my ability to learn….when I am wearing a mask, the only thing I can focus on is the mask and the feeling that it gives me.” This is not the only student who has had these concerns. 

Masks have also affected habits that students may have had pre-pandemic. “Masks have made it harder to be loud, and it is more difficult to interact with others,”  one student said. Masks can make it difficult for others to hear what someone else is saying. At least two students have said that it has affected their ability to drink water and eat snacks during class, a common occurrence in classes before the pandemic. Some students say that masks are a distraction in class, which could stem from the need to continually make sure that the mask is covering both your nose and mouth. One student also said that masks made them feel claustrophobic.

Governor Northam’s mandate was announced on Friday, August 13th, 2021 and went into effect in Fauquier County Schools on Monday, August 16th, 2021. 



“Can Face Masks Protect against Coronavirus?” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 4 Aug. 2021, 

“Covid-19: Considerations for Wearing Masks.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,