Spring of Smiles

San Rafael City Schools is lifting the mask mandate for students and staff on Friday, March 11, 2022 at 11:59pm.

Isabelle Stavsky

As the two-year anniversary of Covid-19 approaches, students and teachers around the world are beginning to have the option to rip off their masks and see each other face to face. Now, you may be wondering when we will be given the option, and the answer is tonight, Friday, March 11th at 11:59 pm. But when we hear that bulletin announcement or receive that email, we won’t know what actions and conversations led up to this. When making an imperative decision like this one, there are many factors that come into play, and a lot of behind-the-scenes work that we students often know nothing about. 

The decision to drop the mandate is ultimately up to each school district. Superintendent Jim Hogeboom commented, “the cool thing about being in Marin is that The Marin County Office of Education and the Marin Public Health Department have always been super close together and we just go along with them, so the fact that they have been working so well together has been great.”

As of tonight, masks will no longer be mandated in Marin County schools, although health officials say it is still strongly recommended. This change will affect teachers and other school staff, students, and parents. Superintendent Hogeboom did not receive direct feedback from students, but he did have parents asking to please stop the mandate: “My kids don’t want to wear masks anymore.” 

Sophomore Emily Hinkley says, “I’m really excited because I think that it’s the last step towards normal, which is exciting but I am a little nervous.”

Superintendent Hogeboom explained that the Teacher’s Union “just wanted to make sure that we had N-95 masks, which we do, and that any teacher that wants one could get one, and if there was some situation where the teacher was immuno compromised or something, that the teacher would be able to come and meet with [Human Resources] and figure something out.” The schools wanted to communicate with the teachers to make sure that they feel comfortable with this transition. Hogeboom says, “They were good with it, they just wanted to make sure that we were making sure that their members had what they needed to feel safe in the classroom.”

Mr. Agnew, Terra Linda math teacher, is also the President of the San Rafael Federation of Teachers (SRFT), which means that he represents any certificated school staff member which includes teachers, counselors, nurses, librarians, etc. Mr. Agnew, remarking on feedback from teachers and school staff members, said, “I think that, like any community, you’ll find teachers with perspectives all over the map, you also will find teachers in massively different personal circumstances.” 

Mr. Agnew further elaborated: teachers are all in such different positions, in regards to age, immune system strength, and family situations: “I think what you’ll start seeing is a lot more teachers who will move from cloth or surgical masks to KN-95 or N95s…because they can no longer rely on the protection offered by their students’ masks and they have to take on 100 percent of that protection themselves.” 

SRFT also talked with the school to make sure that good ventilation will continue to be a priority, and that more protective masks, like N-95’s and KN-95’s will be offered to students and staff. Any students or staff that feel that they would be more comfortable by upgrading their masks can go to the main office and ask for them.

When the mask mandate is lifted, whether you choose to keep your mask on or take it off, remember to be respectful and compassionate of others choices.