Sophia Cordoba

A single post triggered a tense comment section on the school districtś Instagram page.

Minutes after the school district posted on Instagram, the comment section erupted with student outrage. The most liked comment under the image? “say sike rn.” While the world is now no stranger to mask mandates, the implementation of one at Ames HIgh a month into school came as a shock to many.  


Unsurprisingly, many students are frustrated with the change. It’s only natural- after a year full of masks and distancing, the world longs for a return to normalcy. It can be even harder to accept when you finally get a taste of that life back, only to have it torn away. 


Yet, as the comment section filled with likes for someone attempting to “ratio” the post (get more likes than the original post), I scrolled to like the reply. “cope.”  


I can’t claim to be surprised at the outrage, I’d have to be ignorant to not have seen it coming. However, I am disappointed with my peers. 


Yes, there are many reasons to despise mask-wearing. Breathing is a bit harder, your throat might get dry, your voice becomes muffled, and mask acne is a scourge. But I urge you to reflect. Iowan Covid cases are on the rise and on Tuesday, 2,652 people died of the virus in the United States. Are inconveniences worth more than the lives of your classmates, your teachers, or your grandparents? 


I must admit, I am biased in my frustration. I am immunocompromised. In order to deal with a chronic disease, I have to take medicine that suppresses my immune system, making me more vulnerable to the virus. To protect myself, I have received the two standard vaccine doses and a booster shot. I wear my mask daily. These are personal choices. 


However, going to school is not optional. I cannot control the environment I am placed in, including the people around me. Every day, I have to rely on my community to care about me. I know that those who cough on me as they walk down the hall have no ill intentions. Many are vaccinated, and they feel that they have done their part.


I wish, just as much as anyone else, that we could all take off our masks. That your choices would not affect my life. But they do. That is the nature of the pandemic we are living in.


There are kids at this school with impending heart surgeries, teachers with chronic illnesses, and families that are vulnerable. There are 3rd graders two blocks away who have no choice but to hope that the world does its best to keep them safe. With this knowledge I ask you, are you willing to care for them even if you may never see their face? 


Granted, Iowa is faring much better than most states during this time. The average number of deaths per day this past week rests at nine. This is far below the high of 78 last winter, but still an increase from the last two months. These statistics not only give me comfort but justification. Why pull our punches when we are so close to winning the fight? Now is the time to curb the spread of new variants, to put on our masks once and for all.