Maintaining COVID-19 Safety in School

A discarded mask hanging from a locker.

Staff and students note a lack of mask enforcement at Ballard

Originally published on November 9th, by Daphne Knox

Despite the looming threat of school shutdowns, students and teachers have noticed resistance to masking policies at Ballard.

According to the Seattle Public Schools website, mask regulations have consisted of wearing a snug fitting mask under the chin and over the nose, laying flat against the cheek. According to the SPS website, a cloth mask with multiple layers or a disposable mask under a cloth mask must be worn.

In theory, these regulations would be effective in stopping the spread of COVID-19, however, a significant number of students consistently wear masks incorrectly, to the detriment of the safety of our school. 

 According to junior Taylor Whetsel, 40-50% of students wear masks incorrectly.

“I feel like they don’t enforce it enough,” said Whetsel. “They [faculty] don’t tell people to pull it over their noses. People seem to get away with that.”

Under the nose mask wearing has been a prominent issue in school to which there is no clear solution. This issue has been particularly prominent among Ballard’s male population, as Whetsel put it, “White boys. Cis-het white boys.”

While Whetsel acknowledges this could be because this is the largest demographic in general, this has been a common observation among teachers and student body. 

One cause of this issue is teachers’ confusion regarding the intended procedure for correcting unsafe student mask wearing. According to Language Arts teacher Kristina Katrel, teachers have not been given a specific policy to do this. 

“We only talked in a really general sense about making sure students keep them on,  encouraging them to eat in the hallways or taking breaks when they need,” said Katrel. 

While there is no specific policy, Katrel described discussions within the staff regarding effective responses to incorrect mask wearing. In theory, this approach includes respectful class discussions that involve presenting scientific data to reinstate the importance of mask wearing, coming from an apolitical standpoint.