TTSD lifts mask mandate

Students and staff share their feelings about the mask mandate lifting


Hillary Currier

Masks are now optional at TTSD. Students spent the week trying to decide what they should do.

By Kass Fullerton, Staff Writer

     As of 12:00 a.m. March 12, the mask mandate was lifted in the state of Oregon. After much discussion, the TTSD school district decided to leave the decision of whether or not to wear a mask in school and on buses up to the students. Presently, masks are not required but strongly endorsed by the district in most places, but still required inside medical facilities and aboard public transportation. According to district communication, The Tigard-Tualatin School District will continue to adhere to the recommendations provided by the CDC.

     Events such as prom, graduation and end of year celebrations are no longer being postponed or canceled. Neither a mask nor proof of having received a vaccine are required to attend activities or events, and the same can be said of showing a negative COVID test. Those in cohorts with others who have tested positive for COVID are no longer required to quarantine. 

     The school will continue to provide weekly OHSU testing and admission for students who have not yet signed up for it. Testing for students already showing symptoms or with concerns of showing symptoms can be tested at the school as well. Surgical masks will be issued to students and staff who still wish to wear them. Students can also seek out mental health services via their counselor.

     Changes to this new system of regulations will be determined by new reports on COVID cases and hospitalization data from the CDC, Washington County Health Metrics, and the number of cases and people exposed within schools. All of these sources will be closely monitored to ensure the people’s safety. 

     In the event of a spike in COVID case numbers, the mask mandate may return. Low or medium levels of spread will mean that masks are not required, but may be encouraged; anything rising above this will result in the swift return of the mask mandate. A more significant, long-term elevation in numbers could also mean a return to online learning, but only if COVID began taking a consequential toll on learning in the building.

     Now with the lifted mandate, anecdotally approximately 60% of students choose not to wear a mask while 40% choose to keep wearing their masks.

     Freshman Isabelle Rohde is a student that chooses to continue wearing a mask despite the mandate lifting.

     “I choose to wear a mask because it’s not that I don’t trust people, it’s just that I’m trapped in a room with these people that I don’t know if they’ve had a cold or flu recently,” Rohde said. “However, I do hope that people will understand that this can all go wasted; the masks can go away, but the masks can also be put back in place.” 

     Freshman Sophia Fuller is a student that no longer chooses to wear a mask at school.

     “I think that we should have had masks longer, but I think people who are vaccinated are fine without wearing masks,” Fuller shared. “I choose not to wear a mask because it gets hard to breathe in there; it’s a bother, and I feel like I don’t need to put up with it if nobody else is.”

     Teachers are also taking advantage of the lifted mask mandate, beginning to teach their classes and give lectures with no mask on. 

     “I’m ecstatic to not wear a mask when I teach,” history teacher Murray Carlisle said. “I’ve noticed as the week has progressed, a lot of my students are not wearing masks anymore, and it’s good to see their faces.”

     “I’m all about it being optional and people choosing to do what’s right for them because that’s what I believe we should be doing if that’s the option,” finance teacher Sue Suttich said. “If you feel more comfortable without it, go without it. If you feel more comfortable with it, go with it.” 

     Suttich explained that she has had no problems with her students wearing masks or not  and that everyone has remained respectful of each other.

     “Working at the elementary level and having the mask mandate lifted has really been a heartwarming experience for me,” Holly Paris, dean of Byrom Elementary School, said. “It’s so important for literacy and fluency to be able to see people’s mouths move when learning language development skills, so it’s been pretty challenging.”

     Paris even reported that her own elementary school daughter was more excited to take off her mask than to celebrate her birthday. 

     In the meantime, TTSD is hard at work finding ways to support students regardless of their choices and aid those receiving backlash from their peers. Any type of harassment or bullying resulting from a student’s decision of whether or not to wear a mask will not be tolerated.