The Mask Civil War: Florida’s Mask Mandate Fight
September 2, 2021
Since the emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic, Americans have been fighting tooth and nail over whether safety protocols such as mask mandates are necessary or just another form of government overreach. As the 2021-2022 school year commences, Florida is seeing one of the worst Covid resurgences in the country, which has rekindled the spark of intense debate throughout the state. While record-breaking numbers of Covid cases arise in Florida, governor Ron DeSantis has recently banned mask mandates throughout the state, essentially handing over the decision to wear a mask at school to the authority of parents.
However, this verdict has stirred mixed reactions from residents, especially from those whom it concerns: the students. “Banning the mask mandate is similar to child endangerment. You’re purposely putting the lives of children at risk, knowing what could happen. And I believe that toying with the lives of children…is extremely careless and selfish,” says junior Matthew Castillo. On the other hand, others have shown support for the removal of mask mandates. Junior Jake Taylor expresses, “In my opinion, I feel that masks should be optional. I agree that parents should have the choice [on whether] their kid/student [should] wear the mask.”
The governor has remained strictly opposed to these mandates and has announced that school funding may be restricted for any districts that continue to enforce them (The Washington Post). Regardless, several school districts including Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, and Hillsborough have put mask mandates into place. However, the ban on mandates has recently been struck down in court, as public welfare overrides personal rights.
Currently, Pembroke Pines Charter High School is also enforcing a mask mandate, as well as honing in on contact tracing, and trying to maintain social distancing as much as possible. “I think mask mandates should be mandatory since it’s already difficult to maintain social distance, and I want to keep myself and my family safe,” states sophomore Natalie Tsung. Sophomore Eduardo Lorenzo adds, “I believe that we should all wear masks, not only to keep us safe but others around us as well. But I do think it sucks having to wear multiple masks when it comes to sports.”
However, others are not completely for the new mandate. “I feel that wearing a mask for 6-7 hours is uncomfortable, and when you go outside, it feels hotter because of the mask. If you are vaccinated, you should have the option not to wear it,” says junior Jake Taylor. Another anonymous sophomore agrees that “the mask mandate imposes on our freedom to choose”, and states that they “think it’s unfair that all people against the mask mandate are assumed to be extreme and in denial of the efficiency of masks. Although [they] do agree that masks help restrict the spread of Covid, [they] think that parents and individuals should have their own say.”
As more and more states are beginning to adopt their own safety protocols against Covid-19, governors throughout the country are now faced with a critical choice: the restriction of freedom, or safety. Whether or not you agree with compromising your right to choose during the pandemic, it is scientifically agreed upon that masks have been proven to limit Covid’s spread. As PPCHS does adhere to CDC and public health regulation guidelines, please remember to wear your mask and social distance to the best of your capabilities. Stay safe!