As schools kick off the 2021-22 school year, the air is thick with questions — and with COVID-19 hesitancy. Will students and faculty have to wear masks? Will they have to show proof of vaccination against COVID-19? Will we see remote learning play a major role this year, as it did last year? How can we keep classrooms safe while the delta variant seems to be running rampant and vaccination rates lag behind national goals?
The unfortunate answer to all these questions is that there is no clear answer. Each state, and even each school district, is handling things differently in the U.S. In Florida for example, Governor DeSantis is threatening to withhold funding from schools that enforce mask mandates. Meanwhile, California has lifted its state-wide mask mandate for schools but highly encourages school districts to enforce their own policies.
An airborne virus doesn’t respect state borders, and the longer it’s allowed to circulate, the more likely the virus is to mutate into a new variant. Perhaps even one that ignores the protections of current vaccines. Which is why it’s important for schools to do everything in their power to protect students, faculty, and everyone else on their campuses.
Two types of protection
Protections against COVID-19 come in two general categories — active and passive. Active measures require actions like wearing a mask, staying six feet apart from other people, getting vaccinated, and so on. The individual person must take action to protect themselves and those around them. Active measures can be incredibly effective, but only when people actually follow them. Masks only work when you have them on, for example. And that, unfortunately, is why passive protections are vital to mitigating the damage COVID-19 causes going forward.
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