Westside Students and Staff Reflect on Mask Requirement


Paige Vaccaro

Westside choir students participate in class while wearing required masks.

2020 started off as not the greatest year. From war rumors, killer hornets, and a global pandemic, many people are left in shock. One way that Westside has adapted to the new environment, is by wearing masks. As the school year has begun, many different opinions on masks have come up.

Social Studies instructor Brian Nemecek is not very optimistic about masks.

“I think they are a necessity for those who think it is a necessity,” said Nemecek. “A necessity for people who want to wear them.”

Nemecek is not a fan of the mask mandate or the limiting of students able to come to school. Given the chance, he would make major changes to the system.

“Absolutely [I would remove masks],” Nemecek said. “I think we should go to 100% [capacity]. If you want to wear a mask, great, but if you don’t, then I’m okay with that too.”

While Nemecek took a more conservative approach regarding masks, Social Studies instructor Karloyn Cahill was on the opposite side of the spectrum.

“[Wearing masks] is not my favorite thing to do,” said Cahill. “I think they’re a little bit uncomfortable and not something that we’re used to, but if it keeps us in school and it keeps activities for students open, and activities in the community and helps out businesses in the community, I think that wearing them is not out of the question.” 

Although Cahill feels positively about the mask mandate, her outlook for the overall school year is not the brightest. 

“I would say [we’ll] definitely [have to wear masks] throughout the rest of the semester,” Cahill said. “I could foresee us wearing them for the whole rest of the year and into the spring.” 

Although Cahill is not certain about the length of time where masks will be required, she is certain that it is better than the alternative. 

“If masks allow students to come and be taught in person and allows me to interact in person, then I would definitely prefer to wear the masks and actually see students,” Cahill said. 

Much like Cahill, students also seem to favor the idea of keeping masks on at all times, despite the worries that also come with it. Junior Dylan Mckee is still wary of the possible cases that could be spread, despite precautions being taken.

“[Masks] help stop the spread, but with how close people are, I still don’t think it’s going to stop if someone does get [COVID-19],” Mckee said.

Although McKee is not sure of the effectiveness of the masks, he thinks that limited capacity at school will be helpful.

“[With masks] I think 50 percent [capacity] is good. It keeps school still spread out and the one-way [hallway] thing is good,” said McKee.

Despite the safety measures Westside has taken, McKee is still wary of some potential problems.

“[Even with precautions], it can still get congested and kids can still take their masks off,” Mckee said. “So maybe 25% [capacity] would be good.”

McKee said he thinks Westside is better off wearing masks than not.

“Probably until we see numbers decrease in cases [we’ll remain wearing masks], but right now they are still going up,” McKee said.

Senior Zoe Slinkard, much like McKee, seems to favor the idea of having masks rather than not.

“I think [masks] are alright. I don’t necessarily like wearing them, but I know that it’s for everyone’s safety,”  Slinkard said.

Slinkard agrees with McKee regarding how long the district will require wearing masks.

“I honestly think it’s going to be a while [that we will be wearing masks],” said Slinkard.

The safety of students and staff seems to be a concern for Slinkard, as she is wary of others not abiding by the mandate.

“I think [school] is safe with masks and social distancing, but only when people listen,” Slinkard said. “Some people don’t wear masks [correctly], and some people just get too close to each other, so it’s not going to work [for our safety] if not everyone listens. I think that if we all do our part then it will be fine.”