Mask Mandate Continues at SHS–Optimism for Upcoming Changes


Christian Pitten

Christian Pitten and James Tolton

The debate over wearing a mask in school has sparked discussions–and controversy–around the community. On Friday, October 1st, the school board was set to vote on whether masks should be required for students, staff, or guests who enter the high school building; however, the decision was pushed back until a later date in November.

According to Scituate High School’s lead nurse, Ellen Claflin, the decision to reschedule a vote on mask-wearing was actually “the state’s decision.” Claflin explained that the benchmark for going maskless is at least 80% of the school population must be vaccinated. Claflin noted, “We know the current percentage is 83%.”

Many students and teachers are questioning how the school board (and the school nurse) knows if someone is vaccinated. Claflin said, “I know who is vaccinated because they share that information.” On the other hand, she stated, “I don’t know who isn’t [vaccinated] unless it is for a medical reason.”

Another question floating around is if the school board decides to make masking optional, will those students who opted out of taking the vaccine still have to wear a mask? According to Claflin, “They would be encouraged to [wear a mask] but it would be hard to enforce.”  When asked if students who have natural immunity (students who were infected with Covid-19, recovered, and have antibodies) will still have to wear a mask, Claflin noted that “the state has not said anything about that at the school level.”

Claflin stressed the importance of getting vaccinated for all students: “The more people that are vaccinated, then the virus becomes weaker,” she stated. Claflin said she hopes mask-wearing will be optional by Thanksgiving, which falls on Thursday, November 25th. 

Many students have much to say about the subject of masking. Scituate High School senior Charlie Norton was passionate about this upcoming decision: “I think masks should be an individual’s choice,” he said. Many students agreed with Norton’s stance. Senior Will Kimball added, “It should be everyone’s choice whether to wear a mask or not.” Likewise, senior Kevin Ryner had a similar message for his fellow classmates. Ryner explained that masking should be optional regardless of vaccination status, while also stressing the importance of getting vaccinated. “Trust the facts–get the vax!” Ryner stated.

It is also important to note that some students expressed their desire to continue wearing a mask while at school–irrespective of future masking mandates.

Susan Ames has been teaching history in the Scituate school system for many years, and her stance is clear: masks provide more safety. She was quick to explain how the current mask mandate, along with other guidelines, such as spacing desks three feet apart, is creating a safer environment for both students and teachers. Ames also noted that she doesn’t want another COVID outbreak that would cause classes to go back to being virtual. “I like how we have it now,” she stated. 

With public opinion on the subject of masks being divided, the final decision will affect everyone differently. As for the future, the school board will continue to seek guidance on masks in schools; additionally, they then may vote on whether masks should continue to be mandated at SHS sometime in November.