Should Students Be Required To Wear Masks During Outdoor Activities?


Around late April, a new COVID-19-related policy was set to be effective on April 29th, 2021. Fauquier County announced that “… face coverings for students and staff [will be] optional while participating in outdoor activities such as PE, recess, labs, athletic practices, and events…”

As of May 11th, 2021, there have been around 667,586 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the state of Virginia. According to the Virginia Department of Health, around 3,028,000 Virginians having received their first and second dose of the vaccine. Virginia has a population size of about 8,500,000 people. With that being said, there are a lot of factors that affect our wellbeing and health when it comes to the public wearing masks/doing their part in social distancing. But when does it get to the point where it crosses the line of you being safe in an environment with hundreds of people in one building? There are about two cases every week in the Fauquier County District, according to VDOH. This may not seem like a lot at first, but if the cases increase steadily at a rate that may become “unnoticed,” then there will be an entirely different outcome of the option to wear masks and whether or not this new policy will be relevant anymore.

I think that the policy was not a good idea. Sure, Fauquier County is averaging about two cases each week, but those numbers can start to add up and add up to an extent where it might become a problem. The majority of the teachers attending/teaching in Liberty High School have been vaccinated which can, in theory, give reassurance to those who are feeling on-edge and nervous while attending school in person regularly. But that may not apply to others. 

Right now, COVID-19 cases are very slowly decreasing. Because of this, it might seem like it might have been a good idea to “sneak in” the option to not wear masks outside, but who is to say that it could bounce up again and start increasing? 

One thing I wanted to point out is that, shortly this morning, an article published by FOX5 stated that, “Children in the D.C. region as young as 12 will now be able to get Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine after U.S. health [advisors] endorsed its use on Wednesday.”  If enough children were to be vaccinated, then I think that the policy might not be all that bad. After all, if this plan was to be approved by the FDA, then it would open up many more possibilities other than having the option to wear, or not wear, a mask outdoors.

During the midst of the pandemic in late November, there was talk about how instead of going to two days of in-person, it would be four days. Now, there has been a new policy to not have to wear a mask during outdoor activities. To add even more, an opportunity to get vaccinated for the majority of high school students. This all goes to show that many things can be accomplished with enough time and patience.

To sum it all up, I would say that given the time, maybe in the near future, I could see this policy being good/working out because of the fact that there might be an opportunity to get vaccinated at a younger age other than it being 16+.  

If you would like to read more about the COVID-19 pandemic and other sources/articles I used, then click the links below; they provide a more in-depth look at these topics.

* At press time, the mask mandate was lifted nationally for all vaccinated people. Individual businesses and organizations, however, may still require masks.  People ages 12-15 have been approved to receive vaccinations.