Small Group Of Students Rally To Stop Portland Schools From Lifting Mask Mandates

By Erika Hanson | 3 months ago

portland masks

As of Saturday, March 12th, the state of Oregon lifted mask mandates for indoor public places, including all 1,200 public schools within the beaver state. Oregon joined the growing list of states throughout the country lifting mask mandates to the appeal of many Americans. But there is also a percentage of those opposing them as well. Enacting their constitutional rights, a group of students in favor of mask mandates rallied to stop Portland Schools from lifting the mask mandates.

About two dozen Portland Public Schools students rallied outside the district’s headquarters last Friday morning to oppose the cities decision to make masks optional after the state lifted the mask mandate over the weekend. Many of those students related to concerns of spreading the virus as a reason for the protest. Students like Serafina Sabatini, a Franklin High School student said that telling people to take off their masks is “selfish” to those who don’t have the option. However, it should be noted that the new mandate does not mean that those who wish to continue masking cannot continue to do so. More likely, the student was regarding “those who don’t have the option” as pertaining to people who cannot receive the vaccination.

Sabatini, like others at the Portland mask protest, is worried that younger kids who don’t have the option to get vaccinated will be put at further risk. Sabatini is a swim instructor and does not have the option to mask herself in the pool with her small students. “I wear a face shield, but since we’re in a pool I can’t wear a mask and I don’t want the mask mandate lifted at schools because then I can be exposed and possibly expose part of the vulnerable population,” she said. 

portland masks

Sabatini’s concerns resonate close to other adversaries to Portland’s lifting of masks mandates that feel younger children who cannot be vaccinated will feel the effects the most. Children represent about 19% of all reported COVID-19 cases in the United States, according to Mayo Clinic. Currently, children under the age of five are not eligible for any of the vaccinations. On the other hand, children are less likely to become severely ill. Up to half of all child cases of COVID-19 are recorded with no symptoms. Backers of lifting the mandates also point to the fact that if masks work and people can make the decision to mask or not, how does lifting the mask mandates put others at any further risks?

Another Franklin High School student is worried about the impact the lifting of the Portland school mask mandate will have on the elderly. Avani Stevens-Rose said she’s worried because she sees her grandma “every week”. She also noted that she has a lot of student friends that live with grandparents.

According to the CDC, older unvaccinated adults are more likely to be hospitalized or die from COVID-19. However, the CDC’s updated guidance suggests that once elderly individuals are fully vaccinated, they need not mask anymore. In retrospect, online trackers show that over 70% of the population in Portland is vaccinated, however, this doesn’t account for how much of the elderly are fully vaccinated. 

State leaders in Oregon addressed the Portland students’ concerns regarding school districts shedding of masks. The Oregon Department of Education director Colt Gill said that districts are using tracking tools that suggest the spread of COVID-19 throughout the counties of the state remain at low enough levels to warrant leaders lifting mask mandates. In the meeting, Gill also reminded students that masks will never be prohibited in schools. Gill went on to encourage students and staff who wish to continue masking to do so.