Point/Counterpoint: Are Masks Mandates Still Needed?


Angelic Menzel and Zach Long

Yes, Masks are Still Needed

Angelic Menzel, Co-Managing Director, Senior

As of March 11, 2020 COVID-19 was deemed a global pandemic. Life as we knew it changed. The effects of COVID-19 caused a nationwide panic and a shutdown of numerous businesses and schools. Just more than one month later, on April 15, a mandate was put in place by then-Governor Andrew Cuomo for the public to wear masks, social distance and avoid unnecessary public gatherings. In just past few weeks, many schools have eased these regulations, and as of March 2 Governor Hochul has lifted the order making mask-wearing mandatory. Just prior to this students had received an email from the superintendent warning that this change was coming. The question remains, though, whether this is the right decision at the right time.

After receiving this information, The Pel Mel polled the student body to see how many students agreed with this move. 215 students responded. Sixty-two percent were pro-mask, with fifty-one percent saying “If it will speed up the end of the pandemic, sure, I can put up with wearing a mask,” and eleven percent saying, “We’ve been wearing masks for two years now, and I’m kind of getting use to it.” Thirty percent were anti-mask, with twenty percent saying, “I can’t wait to get this mask off my face. It feels annoying,” and ten percent saying, “Masks don’t do anything to stop the spread of COVID.”

I side with those who believe masks are a necessary defense to the virus, and beneficial for the welfare of the students, staff and their families.

The continuation of mask-wearing should remain a requirement for entering the school building, as it is relevant in maintaining the safety of students and staff. Removing the mask mandate just before we are completely sure that we are safe from COVID and Omicron, runs the risk of setting off another spike in infections. Each and every individual has a different health background and when students don’t wear their masks, they run the possibility of affecting those with medical issues that put them at risk for COVID. Overall it may be annoying to wear masks but it’s important as a society, to take the steps needed to move forward, even if those steps are “annoying.” We cannot afford to pretend the pandemic is over when it is not. If we do, we will be taking a giant step backwards, rather than moving forward, away from the pandemic.


No, Masks are Not Needed

By Zach Long. Co-News Editor, Senior

We are nearing the two-year mark since COVID has affected school life for not just our PMHS students, but teenagers around the country. According to EdWeek, “On March 13, 2020, principals, superintendents, and governors closed schools across the nation. Eventually, 48 states, four U.S. territories, the District of Columbia, and the Department of Defense Education Activity ordered or recommended school building closures, affecting at least 50.8 million public school students.”

It was originally announced as a two week school closure because of the outbreak of COVID in the United States. Little did we know that life for students, and staff, would change for what has seemed like forever.

One such change to daily life was these pesky little things called masks. Although it would be idiotic to deny any claim that masks do help limit the spread of COVID, I believe that in order to return back to normal society, certain steps must be taken the relinquishment of the mask mandate in schools and other municipal buildings is necessary.

As of the beginning of March the mandatory mask rule in school has been replaced with an optional choice, and this seems justified. Earlier in the year, when the Omicron variant was spreading like wildfire, it would have been totally unsafe to end the mask mandate. However, according to the New York State Department of Health, 88.5% of Westchester County residents who are eligible to be vaccinated, have been. The New York Times reported on February 28 that the rate of infections in Westchester County has declined 56%. Now that infection rates and hospitalizations have declined to such a low level, it is time to leave our masks behind.

Governor Kathy Hochul said, “This fight is not over, we’re not surrendering. This is not disarmament…but again the trends are very, very positive.”

If the trends are positive, and they are, we must begin to transition back to a more normal life. Say goodbye to those annoying things that have made our ears hurt and muffled our voices.

That said, I do not think that people who are unvaccinated should walk around with their masks in their pockets. If you are unvaccinated you should be obligated to wear one. But this works both ways though. If one is fully vaccinated, one should not be obligated to wear a mask. Of course, if you are vaccinated and still want to wear one, then be my guest.