To mask, or not to mask


Freshman Falynn Proulx (left) and Grayson Clancy exercise their masking options (photo by Nikolai Gentes).

Nikolai Gentes, Staff

On Feb. 23, the Pembroke School Board voted 3-1 to make face masks optional inside the district buildings. The following day, the new rule went into effect. 

Currently, face masks are optional at PA for students and staff. 

At the beginning of the 2021-22 school year, masks were also optional; however, the number of Covid-19 cases in the escalated and the school board voted to mandate masks in early-September.

Recently, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) said that masks can be optional in schools as long as Covid-19 metrics weren’t too high. 

Headmaster Dr. Morris cited lowering cases as the school board’s reason for dropping the mask mandate. Prior to the Feb. 15 school board meeting, the Pembroke principals and school nurses met with superintendent Ms. Sherman to discuss the mask policy, said Dr. Morris.

“The dramatic decrease in cases, and the nature of transmission for the Omicron variant were cited as reasons why we all believed it was time to begin exploring a change to our mask policy,” he said.

When making their decision, the School Board considered the opinions of PA staff, as well as the recommendations of the CDC and New Hampshire’s government.

“The Board considered the feedback from the administration and school nurses in addition to guidance, or anticipated changes to guidance, from the State to include the Governor, the New Hampshire Department of Education, and the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (NH DHHS),” said Dr. Morris. 

While many students and staff members continue to exercise the option to wear masks, many welcomed the option to discard them. “I am pro-no masks,” said senior Emma Miller. 

Junior Lillian Corbitt said the policy “makes sense” based on CDC recommendations.

Since returning from Winter break, the cases of Covid-19 have risen at PA, but school nurse Ms. Daigle maintains that this isn’t cause for concern. 

“Due to the school winter break it is common to have an outbreak of Covid-19 after the return of students. I think this is a temporary issue,” she said.

The nurse said that she is confident in the new mask policy will continue to stay in effect. “We’re following the recommendation Department of Health and Human Services, and we are going by their guidelines,” Ms. Daigle said.