Universal masking: our only hope

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By Aishi Debroy, Opinion Editor The seemingly endless nightmare of a debate between those in support of a mask mandate, pro-maskers, and those opposed to it, anti-maskers (who conveniently call themselves mask pro-choicers), ensued within the T/E School District after the school board issued a mandatory mask mandate following governor Tom Wolf’s similar ruling enforced...

By Aishi Debroy, Opinion Editor

The seemingly endless nightmare of a debate between those in support of a mask mandate, pro-maskers, and those opposed to it, anti-maskers (who conveniently call themselves mask pro-choicers), ensued within the T/E School District after the school board issued a mandatory mask mandate following governor Tom Wolf’s similar ruling enforced Sep. 7.  

As a country currently acting like a hotbed of COVID-19 transmission, how can anyone be opposed to the universal masking mandate – one of the only options we have to attain some level of normalcy and safety in the future? 

“Have you heard that they’re an anti-masker?” “People that refuse to wear their masks are childish and selfish.” “A mask mandate obstructs our freedoms as Americans!” “I should be able to do as I choose.” 

Filled with such statements, the hallways have become a battleground between the two opposing viewpoints. (The situation reminds me of the tension between Democrats and Republicans during the 2020 presidential election.) 

And frankly, I’m tired. 

I’m tired of debating the ethics of wearing a mask when study after study has proven its effectiveness. A 2021 report from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of American (PNAS) concluded that masks are about 79% effective in preventing transmission. 

I’m tired of people attaching concepts like patriotism or freedom to ridiculously unrelated symbols like the mask. Why have masks become a partisan issue? Adults throw tantrums over wearing a flimsy piece of cloth in the fear of appearing unpatriotic. 

It is absurd that an example of American freedom and liberty is now the pride of potentially infecting a fellow citizen by choosing to be ignorant of scientific facts. Viruses don’t care about your political views or values; it’ll infect and kill the masses without stopping to ask what your political alignment is.   

Aside from the satisfaction I get from hiding the occasional pimple with a mask, I’ll admit that I’m not overly stoked to put one on either. Sure, sometimes masks can feel suffocating or simply be a bother (especially because I lose them in random parts of my house everyday). But, they’re necessary insofar as individuals refuse to get vaccinated and choose to ignore pandemic guidelines. 

Until the vaccinated population increases, we must default to the next safest option: a universal mask mandate. 

Fortunately, the number of radical anti-maskers remains in the minority. A recent AP-NORC  poll states that 6 in 10 Americans are in favor of a mask mandate within schools. As a country, we can’t afford to be selfish when the pandemic has taken 1 in 500 Americans, according to the Washington Post.  

For the sake of vulnerable members of your community, your family or even yourself, be a dutiful citizen and wear the mask.


Aishi Debroy can be reached at [email protected]

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