Washtenaw County let its mask mandate in K–12 schools expire at the end of February, but as the Observer went to press, the Ann Arbor Public Schools’ requirement remained in force.
Huron High history teacher Jeff DeMoss is all for it. “I think everybody has gotten to a point now in the pandemic where they’ve said, ‘Everybody’s got access to the vaccines, rates are down. So let’s just live our life. We can’t be trapped inside forever,’ ” he says. “And they look at people like me who are continuing to try to advocate for people to wear masks and go, ‘What’s wrong with that person?’ ”
DeMoss sees nothing wrong in worrying about those who are not yet vaccinated—including his own two children under five—as well as those who aren’t well-protected by vaccines because they’re immunocompromised.
Neither does Skyline junior Varsha Reddy. “The fear kind of fades away,” she says. “But whenever I see someone not wearing a mask, I always check if I have my mask on, because even if I have the vaccine, we have to think about other people too.”
Huron senior Trey Green, on the other hand, wears a mask only when he has to. Young, vaccinated, and with no preexisting conditions, “I think I’m relatively safe from the virus,” he says. “If the reason is to protect everybody else, you should give them a mask that protects them, like a KN95.”
When the county mandate ended, AAPS superintendent Jeanice Swift told the school board that the administration will be looking for a “sustained and continued decline” in cases before reevaluating the requirement. With the arrival of even-more-contagious Omicron BA.1 subvariant, though, that may not be as soon as Green would like.