Return of full faces: Teachers react to IL mask mandate lift

Return of full faces: Teachers react to IL mask mandate lift


   As of February 21, 2022, RPS 205 students and staff are no longer required to wear masks while attending classes at school, or while inside district buildings. This change has been brought on by a decrease in COVID-19 cases in Illinois, as well as lawsuits against various school districts throughout the state.

   There have been a wide range of reactions and feelings towards the mask mandate being lifted, with many people choosing a more neutral ground on the issue. Ms. Sanika Dev, health teacher, aligns with those who take a somewhat open stance on the topic.

   “I am neither here nor there with it,” said Ms. Dev. “I wish we had waited a couple more weeks to see if the numbers are still going down, but, again, I am not the expert with this. I am hoping, and I am assuming, they’re trusting science with it.”

   While many staff and students have arrived at a similar position to Ms. Dev on the issue, Mr. Craig Corcoran, engineering teacher, does not feel that the lift of the mask mandate was the right choice.

   “I get it. Everyone wants to be over COVID,” said Mr. Corcoran. “Until we feel like we are safe about it, I have serious issues.”

   Mr. Steve Mrizek, U.S. History teacher, believes that the lift of the mandate was the right choice.

   “At this point, I think it’s perfectly fine,” said Mr. Mrizek. “Here in Rockford, where numbers are kind of low right now, I have no issue with it whatsoever.”

   Many students have opted to continue wearing their masks, but several others have not. While the school district cannot, legally, enforce masks in school district buildings, some teachers, such as Mr. Corcoran, would still prefer for students to wear a mask.

   “I prefer it, but, you know, they have the option not to,” said Mr. Corcoran. “I have done everything in my power to prevent the spread of COVID. I have been vaccinated, I wear my mask, I try to encourage that of my students who wear masks, to be aware and conscious of it.”

   Ms. Dev also encourages her students to make the best choices for themselves and the people around them.

   “One of the main things that we talk about in class is, ‘Are you making good decisions for your health?’” said Ms. Dev. “I’m hoping all of them are making decisions based off of their own research, their own preferences.”

   Mr. Mrizek does not have a preference over whether or not his students wear a mask.

   “It’s up to students, and what they feel is right,” said Mr. Mrizek.  “If the majority of my students are wearing them, I try to wear mine, myself, to try to make them feel more at ease. It is not helpful for me, I don’t enjoy wearing my mask, but it’s more about the comfort of my students than me in this class.”

   Regardless of personal opinions on the lifted mask mandate, teachers, such as Ms. Dev, Mr. Mrizek, and Mr. Corcoran, plan to continue teaching through it. 

   “I am not treating any student differently based on whether or not they are wearing a mask,” said Ms. Dev. “I am here to do my job, and I am going to do the best I can.”