Decisions, Decisions



FILE – In this Aug. 6, 2020, file photo, Guntown Middle School eighth graders walk the halls to their next class as others wait in their assigned spots against the wall before moving into their next class during the first day back to school for the Lee County District in Guntown, Miss. As schools reopen around the country, their ability to quickly identify and contain coronavirus outbreaks before they get out of hand is about to be put to the test. (Adam Robison/The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal via AP, File)

The Covid-19 pandemic has affected everyone over the course of the last eighteen months. One thing the pandemic has drastically changed is schools. Schools shut down and if they did go in person, they required masks for the 2020-2021 school year. Over the summer months it appeared that the pandemic was taking a turn for the better, so many schools made the decision to make masks optional. The effects of this decision are manifesting in many ways. Some schools have already been heavily impacted by their decision, other schools have hardly felt any effects, and the CDC is urging for immediate change.

One school in particular feeling the effects of their decision is Maconaquah School Corporation. With more than 80 positive cases and up to 64.5% of the children sent home for contact tracing, Macanoquah was forced to shut down their school cooperation until August 27, 2021. The cooperation had chosen to make masks optional for the students and staff at Maconaquah. Within a week, the number of COVID positive students skyrocketed. At this time, the board is still very unsure of what their next move will be. 

Other schools, such as Lewis Cass, have hardly felt the effects of a mask optional school year. Many schools in Howard County have also made masks optional this school year. However, this decision was highly unadvised by the CDC and the county health nursing manager for the health department. So far, no Howard County schools have had to shut down, but cases around the county are still rising rapidly.

With the number of COVID cases rapidly increasing once again, the CDC is urging schools to make masks mandatory. While they can’t enforce another mandate, they are doing everything in their power to ensure people are informed of the dire consequences of not wearing masks and not getting vaccinated. Along with urging masks, the CDC is urging those eligible to get vaccinated as soon as they can.

The direction of the pandemic is up to the public. We all have personal decisions to make, wearing a mask, getting vaccinated, staying socially distanced when possible, or not doing any of these, that can help decide the direction of  the pandemic. One thing schools can do to help the general public is require masks, however the decision is ultimately the boards’ to make.

In conclusion, there are many decisions to be made at this time. Maconaquah chose not to mask up and is now shut down until August 27. Howard County schools made the same decision as Maconaquah, but they haven’t felt any effects as intensely as Maconaquah. The CDC is urging masks and vaccines, but can’t enforce anything. The direction of the pandemic is up to us as individuals, and us as the general public.