Wearing is caring: Saving this school year one mask at a time


It’s the first day of school, and students are beginning to arrive. You put your mask on and head to class. You’re surprised at the amount of students actually wearing masks, but there are still far too many without. Your palms sweat as you anxiously wait to see who will sit next to you. Just before the late bell rings, someone sits down next to you, and you let out a sigh of relief. They wore a mask.  

Masks: the tiny little piece of cloth that covers only half of your face and has sparked a divide among millions of Americans during this global pandemic. Every individual has their own reasons for wearing and not wearing masks; however, it has become increasingly clear that each side is set in their beliefs. 

The spread of misinformation early on is partly to blame for this divide. When the CDC sent out guidelines for masks in March, they claimed that they were inefficient. This was because there is a shortage of PPE for medical professionals in the United States. UC San Francisco epidemiologist George Rutherford, MD. believes that “[they] should have told people to wear cloth masks right off the bat in order to save the surgical masks and n95 respirators for the medical professionals. But, by the time they changed their guidelines, people across the country were set in their ways. 

Here at Sequoyah this national divide can be seen in the hallways of our school. Many upperclassmen students can be seen wearing face masks for the sake of getting to experience football games and graduation. Ask any upperclassman, and they will most likely tell you that they don’t want to return to digital learning. If the school closes, they will miss out on the classic high school experiences that they have waited so long for. 

And, it’s not just seniors that want to stay in school. Underclassmen will also be seen wearing masks, not only to protect the safety of themselves and their families, but to be able to participate in their first couple years of high school in person– not stuck behind a computer screen. For many freshmen and sophomores, their first years of high school are important for joining clubs and getting used to the new environment in their transition from middle school. For many students, high school also means meeting new people and making new friends. If school closes, they will be missing out on these important opportunities.  

Although there are many different views on this topic, studies have proven over and over again that masks can slow the virus if everyone wears one. According to the CDC, “COVID-19 spreads mainly among people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet), so the use of masks is particularly important in settings where people are close to each other or where social distancing is difficult to maintain.”  

In the small hallways and classrooms of our school, there is not much room to socially distance while learning or switching classes. If all students wore a mask, the risk of transmission would decrease drastically, and there would be little to no risk of the school closing. 

With many other schools in Cherokee County closing, there is a constant fear that Sequoyah won’t fall far behind. All of the schools in our county that have closed did not have a mask requirement. So far, we’ve been lucky, but with the amount of students at our school that still aren’t wearing masks, closing might be inevitable.  

A study done by Health Affairs showed that mandating masks will slow the growth rate of COVID-19. The study found that within “the first five days after a mandate, the daily growth rate slowed by 0.9 percentage-points.” 

If every student wore a mask to school, we could have football games, homecoming, field trips, clubs, etc. The students that wear masks know that each of these things are at stake this year and that none of it is guaranteed. 

So, thank you to all the students who are protecting their teachers and peers. Thank you to the students who are wearing masks so that the seniors might actually get a prom this year. Thank you to everyone who is protecting those who are immune compromised. This simple act of service has the potential to make a big difference in this school year.   

Whether the person that sat next to you on the first day of school wore a mask out of respect for others, for the sake of homecoming and football games, or to protect themselves and their family members, they are contributing to slowing the spread of the virus.  We should all be dedicated to making a positive impact in our school this year by wearing a mask.