Masks and Safety for Old Lyme Students


Coming down from the omicron surge, Connecticut and many other states have decided to ease mask mandates in the coming weeks. As usual for decisions regarding COVID, the decision has been met with everything from meek skepticism to haughty support.

 The president of the Connecticut Education Association has stated that, while numbers are headed in the right direction, many educators and health advisors remain worried about ending the mask mandate so soon given the season for respiratory illnesses doesn’t end until mid-March. That being said, for most lawmakers, politicians, and board heads, it seems as good a time as any to take a step towards “normalcy”, so students can expect LOL schools to follow this example. But perhaps a return to “normalcy” may not be best for our health, or our people, overall.

 For many years now, other countries’ populations have taken substantial precautions to overcome the annual respiratory illness season, and to great effect. A 2016 study from the US National Library of Medicine on 10,524 Japanese schoolchildren showed that vaccination and mask-wearing gave a “significant protective association” against seasonal influenza. The effectiveness of only vaccination and mask-wearing was 9.9% and 8.6% respectively. Other broader studies about both masks alone, and when paired with vaccination, agree that there is an undeniable benefit to public safety and health from taking mask-based precautions during any season of illness. Perhaps America, especially more populous areas, should follow this hygienic standard. Adopting such care for public health would mean fewer sick children, fewer sick adults, and less overall suffering in the general population. All that is required is our society integrates mask-wearing into the seasonal precautions most Americans take come winter. 

While I understand that we all desire to return to life before the pandemic, a different world could be a better one. We could take what we’ve learned from the pandemic and grow stronger from it; mask-wearing and vaccination could be commonplace, and wintry disease could be far less dreaded. Just because most of us young students are resilient and fear not from any coronavirus, that doesn’t mean we have to sit by and tolerate a few days of feeling rotten every winter. Take the precautions, give it some forethought, and make your future more pleasant.