Anti-mask protestors fuel discussion on mask policy

After school on Sept. 17, members of the Parents of Lake County Community Committee protested against COVID-19 vaccines and masks outside of the school. On top of holding up signs, they passed out flyers to people passing by, describing Governor Pritzker as a “dictator.”

“NO FORCED MASKS. NO FORCED VACCINE. NO FORCED TESTING. NO FORCED QUARANTINE” read a part of the flyer. The paper also goes on to encourage others to reject masks in school, something they think is an infringement on their freedom.

The protests conducted by the members of the Parents of Lake County Community Committee symbolized the anti-mask debate officially migrating to our school.

With the start of the 2021-2022 school year came the start of the mask mandate issued by Governor Pritzker on Aug. 4, stating regulations every Illinois student would have to follow as they came back to school in the fall.

On top of the protests, there have been petitions started by Illinois parents to remove the Illinois mask mandate. As of now, this petition created on the website has accumulated about two thousand five hundred signatures, though their goal is to get to five thousand.

“Masks should be a choice for those who feel they need extra protection or are feeling under the weather, in which they should stay home from school anyway. Masks should not be an ‘across the board’ mandate,” an excerpt from the petition description reads.

Some students at our school say they feel safer with their masks on, such as Anaya Bindal (9) and Nitya Mehta (11), who both support this required mask policy.

“I think it’s positive that our school is enforcing the mask rules so that it lessens the spread of COVID-19 through our school and makes it easier…[to] come to school so we don’t have to do e-learning,” Bindal said.

According to Bindal, our school has already been working towards achieving a middle ground, following state mandated rules to ensure safety inside but allowing some freedom when we are outside.

“I think that our school is kind of reaching a middle ground when we go outside [having] no masks, versus inside,” Bindal said.

According to Mehta, although masks make it harder for her to breathe at times, especially in gym, she supports the notion of wearing masks anyway; it keeps her safe, and she values that over all else.

“I feel safe wearing a mask, but I don’t really care about other people wearing it; but if they want to, that’s good,” she said.