Students Sound Off on Lifting Mask Mandate


Megan Michaels, Sophomore Editor

The Durham Public Schools Board of Education has moved forward with the decision to change the indoor mask requirement to a mask “recommendation.” The motion passed with a 4-2 vote at the school board meeting and will be implemented on Monday, April 11th. 


Nearly all of the other 115 school districts state-wide have made similar changes, and Durham County lifted its mask mandate in early March. Masks have been optional outdoors in schools since March 11. 


Conflicting opinions on the school board decision have echoed throughout the Jordan student body. While some students are eager to have the option to remove their masks on April 11th, others voiced differing thoughts and concerns. 


Junior Llia Isley says she disagrees with the recent decision, stating “There’s really no reason not to wear a mask. It only helps protect people,” and added that she will continue to wear her mask after the requirement is lifted. 


Senior Annabel Vance says she thinks that moving forward with this motion is “unfair to those who have medical issues and/or go home to family with medical issues.” Lilly James, a sophomore, adds to the view in contradiction to the school board’s ruling, communicating her fears that this decision has come at a dangerous time when a new variant is becoming evident.  


Both Vance and James have stated that they will continue to wear their mask after April 11th.


Students who have chosen to remain anonymous gave voice to the opposing side. A sophomore vocalized their support for Durham Public Schools’ decision, agreeing with the idea of a “recommendation” that allows students to wear one if they want to, but does not require it. A senior holds similar opinions, communicating complete agreement with the school board’s decision, and that he will not continue to wear a face-covering once it no longer becomes required.


Others have expressed agreement in a similar sense, conveying excitement to see “smiling faces of students” and anticipation to see “what people actually look like.” 


Several Jordan students expressed agreement with the decision and hope to remove their masks, but they do not “want to be judged” or “canceled,” and they will only do so “if everyone else does.” This fear of being “canceled” is perhaps due to Instagram accounts that have been created to “expose” those wearing masks incorrectly below their nose.


Chip Sudderth, the Chief Communications Officer for the district, recognizes this, saying “Individuals’ decisions to wear or not to wear masks must be respected. No employee or student should be made to feel shame for either decision.”


Others communicated their uncertainty about the decision, such as junior Noa Sherwood who says he is “impartial” about the ruling, and sophomore Giovanna Rodriguez who says she has “mixed feelings about DPS not requiring masks.”


The approval of this motion and its implementation has been long anticipated by some, and long feared by others. Jovonia Lewis, Vice-Chair of the DPS School Board, acknowledged these conflicting thoughts, stating “There are many views and opinions on both sides and we need to make our decision based on the same things we’ve been basing it on – safety, science and the metrics. If it’s time to move on, it’s time to move on, but not because everybody else has done it…what does the science tell us?”