Masks Down, Cases Up?

One Student With a Mask and Another Without

PHOTO | Johnan Mitchell

As of last week, Arkansas Tech students and staff are no longer required to wear masks. After nearly two years of wearing masks, this is a big change for Tech and many other schools in the state who are also relaxing mask mandates. 

The Arka Tech Editorial Board respects the reasons behind this ruling. However, we believe it was not the optimal choice, and we have concerns over a virus resurgence.

We believe that wearing masks during such a violent pandemic is a necessary habit of safety. Cases are decreasing, but the pandemic has not ended. COVID-19 is unpredictable, and a new mutation could occur at any time. 

We believe that upending the mandate can be compared to ceasing antibiotics when one feels better. If a patient does not take the prescribed dose, the sickness could return.

Taking the necessary precautions, such as social distancing and wearing masks, is part of why the number of cases has dropped. However, if we are not careful, they may return with a brutal vengeance.

We also think that by ending the mask requirements the school may be giving off the impression that it isn’t as concerned about student health and safety as it should be. This is especially important, considering some students that attend can be considered high risk. Not to mention those who have high-risk family members. 

It is also important to consider that not all students and staff are vaccinated, thus making transmission far easier than it would be if one was vaccinated.  

Arka Tech believes that it is far better to be safe than to be sorry. We worry now that once Pandora’s box has been opened, it will be difficult to close. Meaning, if a mask mandate needs to be enforced again due to an uptick in cases, it will be very difficult to do so. 

We agree that masks are inconvenient. They can be uncomfortable and make communication difficult. However, we think that this inconvenience is mild and ultimately better than a campus full of sick students. 

Masks may be annoying but they are essentially victimless. The same cannot be said for COVID-19. What would it hurt if the school kept mask requirements for a little bit longer? 

The Arka Tech Editorial Board believes that safety should be the number one priority.