To Mask, Or Not To Mask?

WSD makes masking optional for the 2021-2022 school year, sparking some debate


Sruthi Ramesh

Masked and unmasked Liberty students make their way down the hallway.

School districts across the St. Louis area have released their masking policies for the new school year. Among these, Wentzville School District put out their Mitigation and Prevention Strategies Memo. This clearly states that “masks are optional in buildings and outdoors” and “masks are still required on buses per federal requirement.” 

District mask policies are varying in the St. Louis area. Some districts such as Fort Zumwalt also have an optional masking policy. Other school districts, like that of Saint Charles, decided on starting the school year with a mask mandate in place. Meanwhile, there are a few districts whose policy meets more in the middle. For example, Francis Howell has mandated masks for PreK-Grade 6 students, as younger children are unable to be vaccinated currently. 

It’s no news that kids are getting COVID-19 more rapidly than before. Consequently, multiple school districts across the nation have had to close their doors and alter their learning plans due to COVID-19 outbreaks. The nearest example of this would be the Fort Zumwalt School District, whose optional masking policy has already left over 400 students in quarantine. 

With this new data, it’s important that students, staff and parents feel as if their district is seriously taking their safety into consideration. Nevertheless, opinions regarding the masking policy in the WSD are assorted. 

Anna Wright is a junior at Liberty. Regarding the decision on masks, she expresses: “I think that they knew if masks were going to be optional, then most people would choose to not wear it.” Wright claims, “Now there’s peer pressure, anxiety and a lot of people are saying, ‘if no one’s wearing a mask then why would I wear one?’”

Concerning young children and masks, Wright believes the district could have chosen a better approach. “I think it’s dangerous for younger children who can’t even get vaccinated.” she continues, “I think that is very dangerous and I wish that they would have made the masks more mandated.”

On the other side of the spectrum, there are students who feel as if the district made a fair decision. “I respect the district policy,” junior Julia McCutcheon states. “Some people prefer to wear masks, some people don’t. Some people are immunocompromised. Some people have political feelings where they don’t wear a mask. I believe it satisfies both sides of the argument.”

But while these two students have differing opinions when it comes to Wentzville’s masking policy, they both agree that WSD schools have a higher probability of closing due to the spread of COVID-19. 

“I think the Wentzville School District could possibly go down.” McCutcheon explains. “I feel like out of the districts in Saint Charles county, Wentzville would close down due to the lack of masks or vaccinations.”

“I do see schools in our district closing due to COVID-19.” Wright also noted. “Maybe not right now, but probably down the line.” 

Click here to stay up to date with positive COVID-19 cases and quarantine data in the WSD.