My mask! My choice.

Grace Harris, Commentary Editor

Two long years have gone by since schools shut down statewide. Now, on Mar. 2, 2022, AISD officials voted against the requirement of masks. On Monday, Mar. 7, students throughout Bowie will see the faces of their friends and peers for the first time in two years. This new option for students and teachers is the first step toward reviving our regular lives. This decision is long overdue.

As Austin has moved into stage three following the decrease in Omicron cases in February, our student body is more than ready to go without masks. I believe students have the right to decide for themselves. This choice allows all students and teachers to make the correct choice regarding their health and comfort. 

AISD is the last public district in Austin to make this very necessary step forward. Eanes ISD reverted to mask-optional following thanksgiving break in November and Dripping Springs ISD enabled this choice beginning in the 2021-2022 school year. As AISD was one of the final districts to make this monumental decision, I feel good about Bowie students finally getting the choice on whether or not to wear a mask. 

It has been two years of consistently wearing masks in public spaces, however, Texas’s mandate on this was dissolved Mar. 10, 2021. For a year, students and teachers have been allowed the choice of wearing a mask in environments outside of school. Many choose to, and many do not, enhancing the importance of allowing the same choice within our schools. 

With the release of vaccines and boosters, most students chose to protect themselves. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reported that over 16.7 million American children ages 12-17 have received at least one dose of the vaccine. Moreover, the vaccine has successfully lessened the severity of COVID-19 to similar symptoms as the common Flu. With the new mask mandate in our schools, it is more important than ever to get vaccinated. We cannot make this advancement at Bowie without the vaccination of our student body. 

In the first year of the epidemic, as well as during the rising of different variants, masks were important to the health and safety of Texans. However, with lowering case numbers, and after two years of the distorted life with COVID-19, it is time to make progress forward. Students and staff long for normality, a life without constant masks and mandates. So with the protection of COVID-19 vaccination and booster shots, I am confident that Bowie is ready to go mask-optional.