Masks On, Masks Off: Changing COVID Mandates


Elizabeth Alfaro

The past year and a half brought many changes to the lives of school students  across the world, as we leave behind distance learning and file back into classrooms. Now, many schools across the country have reopened, but rules and mandates, including masking indoors, social distancing, and negative COVID tests have strongly altered  the learning environment at Terra Linda High School. 

Although these mandates are slowing the spread of COVID-19, many more changes are necessary to put an end to the pandemic. Gavin Newsom, Governor of California, intends to make vaccinations mandatory in school environments after the doses are approved for those under the age of 16. This process is expected to be put in place by July 2022. While the more common changes such as wearing masks, wiping surfaces, or social distancing have become a norm many still remember the pleasant life before the pandemic.

Teachers and students have all sorts of opinions and thoughts about these changes. Teagen Leonhart, Terra Linda Journalism teacher, contributes, “Something that makes me sad is that before COVID, my students and I were able to make our own tea in class…COVID is the first time in years when I haven’t been able to do it, and I really do miss it.” These smaller traditions have been put off due to COVID restrictions, and unfortunately, they’ll need to be put off for a while. 

There are several things to miss about life before the pandemic. Some other elementary school classrooms had a similar tradition to Ms. Leonhart’s. In the mornings, the children would go to their group of about five people and read books together while being allowed to drink tea. The teacher would bring tea packs, and students would bring their own mugs. Something else to miss are the mornings of seventh grade in December, when friends would all meet up before class and share bags of candy canes, and on lucky days, teachers would bring gingerbread cookies for students to bring home. 

Masks, vaccines and mandates have become the new normal in this changing world. Teachers and students all have special memories of traditions that COVID restrictions prevent but it’s important to remember that these rules are here to help us safely tredge through this difficult time. As long as everyone continues to do their part to remain safe, we’ll be able to return to our older lives sooner than ever. 

Keep looking up, Terra Linda!