Calling the Shots

Raising the voices of the community about mask and vaccine mandates.

December 16, 2021

Controversy and battles over mask and vaccine mandates have swept the nation and San Dimas is no exception.  This pandemic has shaken everyone’s lives, and with every new change, there is a wave of questions, demands, relief, and pushback.  Staff, students, and parents alike all have their own opinions on the subject. Whether it be conspiracies, personal preferences, willingness to put safety first, or medical conditions, the constant debate surrounding protocols that affect our schools still remains.

Since the very beginning of Covid-19, there have been protests regarding pandemic safety rules. Here in San Dimas, there have been protests outside of our very own BUSD district building, which started in August.

On October 18th, opponents of vaccine and mask mandates could be seen holding signs embodying their dissent that read phrases such as: “MOMS 4 FREEDOM!”; “SMILES OVER MASKS”; “EDUCATE DON’T MANDATE!”; and  “FREEDOM BY FORCE!”

The most recent protest (Oct.18th) even made the local news. An ABC 7 news article titled “Parents, teachers protest against student vaccine mandate across Southern California” features a statement from one of the protestors that gathered outside of the BUSD building: Carol Wilkerson Runge, a former teacher of the BUSD district.  “I have personally been vaccinated.  Half of my family has, half has not.  But again, freedom of choice,” exclaims Runge.

I have personally been vaccinated.  Half of my family has, half has not.  But again, freedom of choice.”

— Carol Wilkerson Runge

On the same day of that October protest outside of BUSD, there was another demonstration that took place in the form of students across California not coming to school to show their resistance to California school COVID-19 vaccine requirements, along with the protests of parents and teachers.

Aside from the protests, values manifested themselves in many ways amongst the community. There are teachers who do not enforce the mask mandate in their classes, students who are uncomfortable without a mask, and even pupils and teachers who break the rules by not wearing a mask while in their classrooms.

Sophomore Miranda Flores stated that in the earlier stages of in-person learning, “I feel naked without my mask on.” Now she feels that it is important to still wear masks, but she is more relaxed about the topic. According to Flores, if you’re more prone to getting the virus or at risk, then you should wear a mask outdoors when it is crowded. “But I think if you have the shot, or been tested recently and you know for sure you don’t have COVID, then you can drop the mask. Right now I’m not wearing a mask but maybe if I was weaker or if I did get the coronavirus I would wear it,” Flores explains while outside at lunch.

Though outside she feels comfortable, indoors she wears her mask for others and those who might be at risk. She doesn’t mind it when other classmates enter the classroom unmasked if the seating is spaced out enough. “If everyone is close together or if you are standing right next to another person then you should be masked,” says Flores.  It is all about distance and being mindful of others that determine her comfort zone while in school.

I think that the mask mandate, in theory, would be an effective way to keep kids safe, however many don’t abide by the rules because they are not effectively enforced and for that reason, I don’t think it’s working too well.”

— Anonymous Sophomore

Another sophomore shares her views on the mask mandate. “I think that the mask mandate, in theory, would be an effective way to keep kids safe, however many don’t abide by the rules because they are not effectively enforced and for that reason, I don’t think it’s working too well,” she says. She hasn’t seen direct rebellion of the mandate but has noticed that it was more along the lines of careless disrespect. “I have seen kids repeatedly disregard the mandate and not wear a mask or wear it incorrectly,” she explains.

Another perspective in this situation is that of teachers.  Foreign language teacher Mr. Ruh states he doesn’t have a problem with a school COVID-19 vaccine mandate.  “I already had a vaccine mandate when I was in elementary school, and that was for mumps and measles. And if indeed we have vaccine mandates, I’m not sure why this is any different, so I don’t have a problem with the mandate at all because we have vaccines that are mandated” he explains. “I don’t know what the issues are around why people will easily get vaccinated for measles but not for this, I don’t know the reasons behind it.”

On the topic of masks, Mr. Ruh explains that he dislikes the masks but continues to enforce the mandate because we will not compromise or risk transmitting the virus to a person who may have a weaker immune system, as well as describing a common phenomenon he calls “Mask Fatigue.” He understands the struggles and discomfort of wearing a mask. “I am an adult, I’m 60 and I have mask fatigue. I cannot imagine what it is like for teenagers to have mask fatigue and to do that every day for the past 20 months,” explains Mr. Ruh.

Mask Fatigue”

— Mr Ruh

When asked about the fairness of parents pulling their children out of school to avoid the student having to receive the vaccination, he reveals that he wishes to respect the will of parents, but would much rather have his students in school. “I want to be respectful of parents, adults, and children,” Mr. Ruh strongly expresses, “but we also have a long history of vaccine mandates in this country for school. And parents aren’t taking kids out of school for measles, so I’m not sure why they are doing it for this.” He faces internal conflict by respecting the parents’ decisions and wishing the kids stayed in class.

Polls were also conducted by Saint Scroll to gather data on how our community feels about these topics; one on Instagram (@thesaintscroll) and one on this website. On Instagram, the poll about our school mask mandate showed that 71% of its participants supported mask mandates, and 29% opposed, while the poll regarding the school COVID-19 vaccine mandate showed a 69% support rate, and 31% opposed rate.  On 74% say yes to the vaccine mandate, overpowering the 26% who disagree. The results are clear: the voice of approval for mask and vaccine requirements is significantly stronger than the objection.

Protests, enforcement issues, and personal preferences all come into play when these mandates are established. People argue, ignore, or urge others to follow the rules and regulations. Maybe when all this madness stops, the world, or at least San Dimas, can finally go back to a variation of what normal looked like before COVID-19 disrupted the lives and shattered the comfort zones of many.  But only time will tell the future of the world’s fight against this pandemic.


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