Masks are now optional in Santa Rosa County schools

Ella Wagner, staff writer

As of Monday morning, May 3, 2021, the mask mandate for Santa Rosa County schools was changed to be recommended instead of required at a school board meeting. 

This meeting was called after the State Surgeon General on April 29, 2021, rescinded a public health advisory from July that required that face masks be used when social distancing is not possible. Since last summer, the Santa Rosa County School Board has stated they would follow public health guidelines in their decisions about what to do in local schools. The result of this board meeting was a shock to many since as of April the school board had decided to wait until the next school year to make the mask mandate optional because of the lack of school days left and the amount of time it would take to make this new mandate permanent. However, this changed after the meeting held on May 3, 2021.

The reaction to this new decision was mixed. According to WEAR-TV’s website, during the meeting, a parent stated they “fear the number of COVID-19 cases will rise as younger children are not eligible for the vaccine.” Many people agreed that this was a good point; but others disagreed. For example, according to WEAR-TV, “Monday morning over a dozen parents pleaded for the school board to get rid of the mask requirement.” Some even stated it was causing their young children to have severe anxiety. 

The week of the school board meeting, students at Navarre High School were interviewed to see how they felt about the new mask mandate. Senior Jaisiah Rivera stated, “No, I don’t wear my mask to school anymore; however, if I am feeling sick, I wear it just to make sure I don’t spread my germs to others.” When asked if he likes how masks are now optional, he stated, “I feel like they work to prevent the spread of illness but like anything in life nothing is 100 percent.” Rivera also stated, “I feel like COVID-19 is real and I feel like it should be something that is taken seriously. I also feel like everyone should take into account the feelings and beliefs of their fellow Americans.” 

Freshman Dana Yanes stated, “Yes, I still wear my mask because my parents feel it’s important to continue to wear it until I am able to get the vaccine.” Yanes also stated, “I also still wear my mask even though it is not mandatory because we have had to wear it so long that I feel insecure without it because when I am wearing a mask it covers some of my insecurities.” Most of the students interviewed are happy with the new decision. 

In conclusion, as of May 3, 2021, masks are no longer required but are strongly recommended in Santa Rosa County schools.