AWHS community grapples with lift of mask mandate


Jackson Oliver-Roa

Students in Doc Wing’s Living Earth class gather while masked in class prior to the mask mandate lift.

On Mar. 14, TUHSD’s mask mandate will be lifted for the first time since 2020, with masks strongly recommended rather than a mandate. While many students and teachers are excited to set aside their masks, others are feeling hesitant. 

AWHS history teacher David Gutfeld was not surprised about the mandate lift, considering other states lifted their mandates as well. However, he is still concerned by the presence of COVID-19, as there are still aspects of the virus that aren’t fully understood. 

“[The mask mandate lift] was expected. There comes to be a natural progression, you can see things are happening across the country and other states that have a similar kind of mindset around the pandemic. I’m not excited, but I think it’s [the mandate lift’s timing] appropriate,” Gutfeld said.

While Gutfeld respects the state’s decision, he is nervous about his two young, unvaccinated daughters, one of whom is immunocompromised. 

“I have two children, one’s immunoompromised and one isn’t but they’re both under five, and I think that once they get vaccinated it will be a lot safer. I wish they would have waited [to lift the mandate] until [when kids five and below can get vaccinated],,” Gutfeld said.

Gutfeld trusts epidemiologists and Marin County Public Health Officer Dr. Matt Willis and believes that it is important to follow the health guidelines, whatever they may be. While Gutfeld will continue to wear a mask for the time being, he respects that others may not. However, he hopes that the tragedy of COVID-19 is not forgotten. 

“I think we need to be respectful that a lot of people have died from COVID. I’m a history teacher, and so I talk about the history of pandemics and things like that which I have expertise in. I don’t have expertise in epidemiology, and so I think it’s important that we listen to our county health people if they say it’s safe to lift masks. Because eventually, if we have to put masks back on for this pandemic or another, it’s important to me that we listen to them still,” Gutfeld said.

Unlike Gutfeld, some members of the AWHS community are not as hesitant to lift of the mask mandate. AWHS freshman Lily Brezine, who has worn masks to school her entire high school career, is ecstatic for the mandate lift, and plans to abandon her mask right away. 

“I’m really excited. I know a lot of people who want to keep their masks on, but I think I’ll personally take it off,” Lily said.

Despite her eagerness, Lily’s not so sure how all of her peers feel, as she hears both negative and positive remarks about the mask mandate lift. 

 “I feel like a lot of the upperclassmen are really sick of [masks] for their last years of high school, so I think they’ll get rid of [masks]. I don’t really know about my grade. I just think people should choose whatever they want to do, and do it,” Lily said.

AWHS sophomore, Sarah Blanchard, shares Lily’s excitement for the mask lift, but is a bit hesitant. While she has no opposition to others going mask-less, Sarah is not sure how she will handle the change, as wearing masks has become a normal part of her life.

“I’m very excited but I don’t think I’m actually going to take off my mask right away… If other people do [not wear masks], then I probably won’t either. I just don’t want to be the only one and seem like an anti-masker, because I’m not,” Sarah said.

AWHS sophomore, Kathleen Swett, has not forgotten past rises in positive COVID-19 cases following repeals of certain mask mandates; While she is not against the mandate lift, she has concerns as to how it will affect COVID-19 cases in the future.

“I think COVID-19’s going to come right back, I wouldn’t say I’m excited [about the mask lift]. I’ll still wear my mask but now it just doesn’t have to be fully over my nose,” Kathleen said.

Some AWHS students and staff have already made their decisions as to how they will navigate the school campus once masks are not required, while others are waiting to see what happens.