Confusing mask requirements after CDC issues new guidelines

BC teacher told he must wear mask or shield, while other staff openly violate district mandate


Photo Courtesy of Alex Bussey

Campus supervisor Rodriguez monitors student restrooms while not wearing mask.

Alex Bussey

As students and staff prepared to return to campus, many wondered if and how social distancing rules would be enforced.  In preparation for a safe return to campus, administration has implemented a number of new rules and policies, but some students say the enforcement of said rules has fallen short of expectations.

“It’s frustrating when kids’ noses are out of their masks and they walk up to you and pull down their masks even more,” sophomore Abigail Rible said.

What Rible is referring to is not uncommon on campus: many students walk around with their masks below their noses, despite the fact that masks are required to be worn correctly on campus at all times except for lunch time when students are eating.

While many staff members and a growing number of students are fully vaccinated and CDC guidelines state that fully vaccinated people no longer have to wear masks in most public settings, they are still expected to follow masking and distancing rules on campus.

“Many students don’t put in the effort to wear their masks, and it would help if students would be more educated on why masks are important,” senior Shawntell Livingston said.

One of the new rules following the return to campus is that no more than three students are allowed in each restroom at one time. However, this rule has not been enforced, as students frequently walk into restrooms where every stall is occupied, and the campus supervisors do not monitor the number of students entering each restroom.

Campus supervisor Gomez monitors quad while not wearing mask or face shield (Photo by Alex Bussey)

Another condition for returning to school was that everyone must wear a mask on campus, including staff.  

“The guidelines from our county are very clear about wearing a mask,” Principal Hillary Harrell said.  “Masks are required on campus.”

However, not everyone on campus has been wearing a mask. Campus supervisors are frequently seen standing outside of the bathrooms with masks hanging from their pockets instead of over their mouths and noses.  When asked why they don’t wear their masks, the campus supervisors declined to comment. Additionally, some teachers have been skirting the mask requirement.

Math teacher Dave Goodwin said he chooses not to wear a mask when he is teaching or walking around campus.

“In order to be the most effective educator I can, students need to be able to see my facial expressions, hear my intonation, and read my lips, because half of auditory learning is the facial cues and the context clues of the vocab,” Goodwin said.  “I want to be effective, and I’m not going to be stifled by a mask.”

Some of Goodwin’s students agree that his decision not to wear a mask helps them learn.

“I think it actually helps since I can fully understand what he’s saying,” junior Valerie Negrete said. “In some of my other classes, it is hard to hear [the teacher] when they have a mask on.”

Goodwin’s decision raises this question: what can administrators do about someone on campus who chooses not to wear a mask, whether that be a teacher or a student?

“If you don’t wear a mask, we go through a more personnel and personal approach on a case by case basis,” Harrell said.

After meeting with Harrell, Goodwin now wears a face shield on campus, but still chooses not to wear a mask, despite the California Department of Public Health guidelines dictating that staff wear masks at all times unless under special circumstances: 

“In limited situations where a face covering cannot be used for pedagogical or developmental reasons, a face shield with a drape can be used instead of a face covering while in the classroom,” the guidelines state.