Optional Masking in Hardin County Schools

Students and Staff Share Their Feelings About Masking Policy

Sophomores+Jasmine+McMillen+and+Zach+Townsend+during+their+lunch+period.+%28Nov.+9%29

Claire Prater

Sophomores Jasmine McMillen and Zach Townsend during their lunch period. (Nov. 9)

Claire Prater, Staff Writer

Three weeks ago, the School Board announced that masks would be optional in schools for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began. After mandatory mask mandates and switching to NTI in the previous school year, this change sparked all kinds of emotions throughout the school and community. 

After returning from fall break, The Central Times Staff released a survey to students and teachers asking for them to share their thoughts and feelings about this change in regulations. 

When asked,“This week, have you been wearing your mask?” 46.2% of the 104 student respondents answered “no” while 32.7% answered “yes.” That left the remaining 21.2% to answer “sometimes”. 

When asked to share their reasoning for their choice, students sounded off on their personal beliefs and views. 

“I don’t wear my mask because I don’t like wearing them. I feel like I can’t connect with the people around me when I wear them,” senior Trenton Osbourne shared. 

In contrast, another senior, Sarah Lanham, answered, “I feel it’s important to help stop COVID for us all to wear our masks.  We don’t know who is going home to a vulnerable family.”

Sophomore Erin Hornback shared that her political views are the reasoning she is not wearing a mask. “I am a Trump supporter and it’s a free country. I shouldn’t be made to wear a mask.” 

Students were also asked to share their feelings about the change in regulations as a whole. 

“A mask mandate should have never been implemented in the first place,” senior Abigail Mabe said.

Another senior, Riley Doran, stated that she feels vaccination should be a deciding factor in wearing a mask or not.  “I feel it is a good change, but only people who are vaccinated should be allowed to not wear a mask.”

Teachers and staff were also asked the same questions as students. Out of 19 responses, 47.4% of respondents said “yes” that they were wearing their masks that week, while 36.8% said they were not wearing their masks. The remaining 15.8% shared that they are wearing their masks “sometimes.” 

Staff members then answered questions on the survey about their feelings and comfort level in the new regulations.

Beloved Civics and Government teacher Brandon Mudd shared his feelings by stating, “I have been vaccinated since they were first made available to staff members early this year. I’ve quarantined when I needed to. I’ve socially distanced myself when I needed to. I’ve worn my mask when I needed to. I’ve done everything that’s been asked of me for the last year and a half. I’m just so tired of it all.”

English teacher Angela Cannon shared why she’s still choosing to stay masked up. “I encounter over 100 kids a day in close proximity in my classroom. Even though I am vaccinated, it has been proven that vaccinated adults can get sick with COVID and spread the virus.”

Science teacher Kayla Ditto shared her feelings about why she feels the new regulations are more realistic, “I think it gives people more freedom in their choice. It is getting closer to the ‘new normal’. I think wherever we go, there will be people who choose to wear masks and others who choose not to.”

In the present time, four weeks after the new regulations were announced and this survey was released, the incidence rate has fallen to 21.6 cases per 100,000 population. Masks have remained optional since the announcement was made due to the incidence rate never exceeding 50 cases per 100,000 population. 

Have your opinions changed about masking since the policy was adjusted? Let us know how you feel in the comment section.