The Masked vs. The Un-Masked


On Friday, February the 4th, a temporary restraining order was issued on the Illinois mask mandate that requires students and teachers to wear masks in school by a local judge in the southern part of the state. As a result, multiple lawsuits have been brought on by parents and teachers who are in favor of masks being optional.

In response to the temporary ban, Geneva High School, and surrounding districts, issued an emergency day on Monday, February 7th. Although completely out of the students and teachers control, they are still required to attend an additional day at the end of the year to make up for emergency day.

“Truthfully, I think because of the nature of this district, and how we serve students from Pre-K to high school, it must have been a difficult decision to come by,” Geneva High School Counselor Brain Vaughan said. “I’m not super jazzed about having to tack on an extra day at the end of the year. But who is?”

By issuing the emergency day on Monday, many of Geneva’s teachers and students are unhappy with the concept of having to make up the day at the end of the year. Many believe there could have been an alternative solution to the situation.

“I believe we should’ve at least have had online learning on Monday,” Geneva High School Junior Karishma Patel said. “I think it was a complete waste of any emergency day and I think it’s bogus that we must make up that day at the end of the year for something that was completely out of the students’ control.”

After learning about a mask-optional school week after that Monday, many concerns started to arise from teachers and students who worried about the safety of others, understanding that not everyone in the building will be wearing a mask.

“I disagree with the decision,” Geneva High School Anatomy & Physiology Teacher Mary Limberis said. “A few students have been forced to go remote to stay healthy due to concerning health issues.”

While many disagree with the decision made by the district to resume school that week, others are in favor and believe that the district was right to continue the week, mask, or no mask.

“In my experience, if we can have school, we’ll have school,” Vaughan said. “Same with bad weather days. This is the Midwest. Bad weather is a part of it. We all deal with it, we prepare, and we preserve. I think it’s the same about going back to school in midst of a pandemic. I believe we’re better off when we’re here, so it made sense to come back.”

As it has been observed, the number of students who choose to wear masks, compared to the number of students who choose not to wear masks, is split down the middle. Around half continue to wear masks, while the other half do not.

“I do feel comfortable [not wearing a mask] because I’m vaccinated and if I’m not feeling well then I don’t come to school,” Patel said. “So, I don’t feel uncomfortable passing by people or being in the same room as people who don’t wear a mask because why are they at school if they’re sick? It doesn’t make sense for someone to come to school if they don’t feel well.”

Despite feeling under the weather, some students still decide to come to school regardless of how they physically feel and deciding whether to come into school or not is heavily impacted by if an individual feels safe or not, which results in many conflicting point-of-views within the school and its students and teachers. Not all are fully pleased with the circumstances at this time and with how the district decided to approach the situation.

“I think there’s a lot about the recent court decision that people don’t understand,” Vaughan said. “I think most people aren’t concerned with what actually happened, when it’s so much easier to just listen to a 45 second TikTok about someone’s feelings about it, and I think that’s a shame. That said – I think this is a complicated issue that affects everybody differently. Whatever the decision came down to, it would have bothered somebody.”

With having a decision been made, not all will be pleased. Although, a court ruling is supposed to take place Friday, February 18th, to rule if schools will continue enforcing the mask mandate or leave students and teachers to their own personal decision. One thing is for certain, whatever the outcome of the ruling on the 18th, change or no change, opinions and personal beliefs on the situation will not.