wo school systems, two policies pertaining to students with masks. We have a unique opportunity to observe how these policies compare.
The Marion County School System began the school year last week simply recommending students to wear masks in classrooms. The Winfield City School System went ahead and required them in all of its facilities.
According to the Alabama Department of Public Health’s COVID-19 K-12 Dashboard, both systems recorded less than five cases of COVID-19. At first glance, one would suspect that the larger, unmasked county school system would have returned higher cases of COVID-19 after its first week.
No final conclusions should be jumped to at this time as it can take up to 14 days for symptoms to develop, according to the Centers for Disease Control. As of today, it’s only been a week since students returned to classrooms. A different story may develop with a little time.
Masks are a hot topic as many have questioned their efficiency and the side effects of wearing them, and, unlike last year’s mask mandates, now there are fully vaccinated individuals who feel like they shouldn’t have to mask. Some simply believe masks and vaccines should be personal healthcare decisions and are not in favor of mandating them either.
On the other side, people argue that masks should be required with the resurgence of COVID-19 because children younger than 12 are not eligible for the vaccine yet. They have no issue with mandates as overall public health is in question. In addition, those ages 12-18 are only eligible for the Pfizer vaccine, which has not been widely available in Marion County. Children are at virtually no risk of severe COVID-19 symptoms and make up 0% of Alabama’s COVID-19 deaths; however, this is not to say they cannot contribute to the spread of the virus.
Regardless of how we feel about masks, we should all be encouraged if either system’s approach is successful. If the mask requirement in Winfield can be linked to low transmission, our residents will have a first-hand case study testifying to the usefulness of these strict guidelines. If the county’s mask recommendation is just as successful, we know that we don’t have to work through health directives.
We will follow this story closely.
See complete story in the Journal Record.