Masks and school: do they mix?


Students are now going back to school, but are masks making it too difficult to learn?

Adeline Gruen, Memorial Staff Writer

Across the nation, students are finally going back to class. Some are doing hybrid (A-B schedule) with only half the students, attending class per day, while others are attending a brick and mortar five days a week schedule, or completely virtual. Different schools have varying guidelines to ensure that the staff and students stay safe.

The Edmond Public School District (EPS) requires students (grades 1-12), and staff to wear masks at all times and that has caused challenges.

“It can be a bit of a struggle at times. I have to take more frequent breaths. It’s not really as bad as I thought it might be,” AP World teacher Jordan Gotcher said. “Depending on what mask I’m using it can sometimes slide around when I talk and occasionally needs adjustment, but this isn’t a big deal.” 

Masks can make it hard to convey certain expressions as well. Kindergarten teacher Sarah Wilson, feels like masks can become hard to use when teaching early education. 

“I most definitely think masks get in the way of teaching phonics and other skills. Children must see the shape my mouth makes and hear the sounds clearly,” Wilson said. “That is quite a challenge when I’m supposed to wear a mask all day.” 

Some people feel like a face shield is a better alternative to face masks, but others disagree including EPS.

“It’s a misunderstanding that a face shield can be used instead of a mask,” Gotcher said. “Face shields are used to prevent infection through the eyes and can be used in conjunction with a mask, but they cannot successfully be used as a replacement for a mask.”

Sophomore Adele Drummond thinks that even though it can be uncomfortable to workout with a mask on it is still worth it. 

“Yes, I do think that we should wear masks because we can still spread COVID even while we are working out,” Drummond said. “Even though it’s irritating we still have to do it.”

Masks can bring numerous problems to the classroom. One being that it is harder to hear each other when having a classroom discussion. 

“I’m sometimes paranoid that students can’t hear me annunciate, but I’m a loud mouth so it hasn’t been an issue yet,” Gotcher said. “I’m struggling to hear students with soft voices when we have class discussions, so I’m hoping they will learn to project a little bit more and that this won’t continue to be a difficulty.”

Another problem with masks in the classroom is being able to form a bond between the teacher and student. 

“The children cannot see my expressions and my smile,” Wilson said. “Connecting with the children is also a challenge because they can’t see your whole face. It’s hard to make connections with a five or six year old with only your eyes.”  

While masks pose many problems and obstacles to the school year, it is better to be safe than sorry. 

Contact Adeline Gruen at [email protected]