Mask Mandate Ends

UPrep switched to being mask-optional


Photo: Matthew Sage

Junior Ethan Matsubayashi takes off his mask in the back parking lot. In February, he wouldn’t have been allowed to do this unless he was eating during lunch.

On March 14, the University Prep transitioned to a mask optional policy, giving the choice for the first time in two years. This change comes at a time when Covid-19 cases haven’t been this low since August 1st of last year, as the New York Times reports.

“We are leaving the decision to mask or not to mask up to each individual. Please keep in mind that wearing or not wearing a mask is a personal choice and not a political choice,” Director of Upper School Joel Sohn in an all-school email announcing the policy change.

This shift isn’t happening just at UPrep. Washington State removed the mandate on March 11, and Seattle Public Schools lifted the policy on March 14. Overall, according to head Co-Chair of UPrep’s COVID-19 Task Force Brian Gonzales, the UPrep community has taken the policy change respectfully. 

“I think people have been incredibly great about saying, ‘I understand that you would like me to wear a mask and I’ll wear one,’” Gonzales said. 

The repeal sparked a wide array of responses from students. In a poll on March 8 of 65 students,  46.2% said that Uprep shouldn’t keep the mandate, 35.4% maybe, and 18.5% wanted it. One-third of respondents stated that they were uncomfortable with the policy change. 

Students who chose to keep their masks off have to acknowledge the fact that there are still people that are uncomfortable to do so,” ninth-grader Yeddia Alebachew said on the survey. 

Twelfth-grader Joanna Oster supports the change, saying that the pandemic has shifted. 

“I don’t think we should continue wearing masks during the duration of COVID-19,” Oster said.  “Which will probably be for the rest of our lifetime.”