Mask or no mask? Vaccine or no vaccine?

Johanna Heckman, Staff Writer

The delta variant has changed the complexion of the COVID pandemic and made masking and vaccinations debate prominent once more.

Now that masks have been mandated in schools in Pennsylvania, tension from students and parents is evident and it’s possible it will brew again this week as new masking guidelines take full effect.

Schools like Tyrone have allowed parents to sign to opt out their child from wearing a mask. In Bellwood that was valid until October 1. Beginning this week students had to provide an excuse with a doctor’s signature to qualify for a medical exemption.

The delta variant is a concern to many schools because it is more contagious and harmful to younger students in k-12. 

Vaccination is an option once students reach middle school, but students and teachers have varying opinions on getting vaccinated, and many have been vocal about their stance on masks. Many teachers and students got the vaccine so they didn’t have to wear a mask. Now that masks have been mandated, many students are considering going back online.  An abundant amount of people find that the vaccination is pointless because more people getting covid-19 with the vaccine. 

While numbers across the nation have fallen by more than 30% since the beginning of September, Blair County continues to see new cases added. On Monday there were 36 new cases in Blair County. The day before the number was 62.

The rising numbers have forced some cancellations of Bellwood-Antis sports. Volleyball has already had 1 cancellation and another game that was rescheduled. Football also had a game cancelled against Curwensville last week, postponing Youth Night as well.

One of the teachers at B-A, history teacher  Mr. Matthew Elder, said that masking is a good thing because it allows him and other teachers to have a more normal and interactive class. He feels more comfortable with allowing students to participate in small group activities when their faces are covered.

Mr. Elder said he finds that wearing masks is the best for students and the schools to keep things as normal as possible. It might not be fun to wear a mask but it does make it easier on teachers to keep things running as normal, he said.

Bellwood-Antis High School Mr. Richard Schreier said one thing different from last year is that masks are only required for indoor interactions and not any outdoor activities. 

Mr. Schreier has said that only 3% of the student body has requested a mask exception. Therefore there is 97% of the student body that has requested a mask mandate. 

One  anonymous B-A 9th grade student said that she thinks that students shouldn’t have to wear make because they are a distraction and make learning harder than it should be.