Mask Mandates in Woodford County

Mask mandates are relevant once again on a local level, as the local Board of Education voted unanimously to make masks optional in Woodford County Schools starting March 1st.


Woodford County High School. Photo by Brayden Miller.

COVID-19 was discovered and spread to America two years ago today. It has been a part of our lives for a while now, but the end of the pandemic may be in sight.

A text sent to the parents of students in Woodford County Schools, stating that masks would no longer be mandatory as of March 1st. Photo by Brayden Miller.

As we learned about COVID and watched it sweep the nation, more and more regulations and precautions came to be, which have become standard. The first of which most would think of, as well as the most controversial, has been face mask mandates in public spaces. From people refusing to wear them for no reason, to saying they can’t breathe with them on, to conspiracy theorists claiming they track people’s movements, masks have been surrounded in absurd controversies with very little valid reasoning against their use. This is relevant on a local level once again, as the Woodford County Board of Education voted unanimously to make masking completely optional in Woodford County Schools.

There’s a difference between fact and opinion, and when discussing matters as controversial as masks, it is important to clarify this. Scientific evidence and data analysis have shown that masks have been effective in flattening COVID rates in areas where they have been enforced well. In an effort to be thorough, a list of scholarly and trustworthy sources supporting this can be found below (in an effort to defend against media bias, news outlets have been excluded), and even more can be found through trustworthy sources online.

The point of providing these sources is to say, without a shadow of a doubt, that masks have undeniably been effective over the last two years in preventing the spread of COVID-19. Therefore, arguments against the use of masks to fight the spread of COVID-19 citing that they have been ineffective over the last two years, are wrong. This obviously isn’t the only argument against masks, of course.

Just because masks have been effective doesn’t mean they will be needed forever. It seems like times are approaching where life will return to “normal,” when precautions will no longer be needed as COVID will be less of a threat.

Since vaccines against the virus have become available, the CDC and other agencies have said consistently that life could return to normal as soon as vaccines were distributed widely and there was herd immunity among Americans. There was a wide variability on what vaccination rate could be considered herd immunity—a range of 70% to 90% of Americans vaccinated was pushed by different scientific sources—however, as a country, we haven’t even hit the lower end of that range. Only ~65% of Americans are fully vaccinated (Our World In Data), and as the people who have wanted to get vaccinated have done so, the rate of vaccine distribution has steadily decreased. With vaccination rates as low as they are, it is unlikely America will ever hit the threshold of herd immunity against the virus any time soon.

Woodford County High School principals in front of the school library, wearing masks, on the first day of the 2021-2022 school year. Photo by @woodfordcountyschools on Instagram.

Another prominent argument against mask mandates is the decrease in COVID cases, claiming that if case numbers get low enough, masks will no longer be needed. While there are flaws in this logic, it is reasonably the most valid argument against mandates. Everyone would agree that there’s a point when cases will be low enough to safely get rid of masks, the only disagreeable part is the number of cases at which that point is. Here in Woodford County, cases have decreased from an average of 43.6 daily to only 5.6, over the last 60 days. Many would see this and think we can get rid of masks, which is a valid opinion to have; the only caveat is that the likelihood of a spike in COVID cases goes up when mask mandates are eliminated, which has been proven in the past. For example: after New York lifted mask mandates, cases started to spike and mandates had to be reintroduced near the end of 2021. Using only low case numbers to justify an end to masking is a viable case, but it isn’t a very certain or conclusive one that promises safety.

So, where does that leave Woodford County Schools? Well, masks have been eliminated for almost 2 full weeks now, and cases still haven’t spiked in our schools. While it’s entirely possible things could get worse, I’m optimistic that we can live the rest of our school year normally for the first time in two whole years.

Do you agree with the Board's decision to revoke the mask mandate in Woodford County Schools?


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