Portland, Maine, has reinstated its COVID-19 mask mandate for public schools in the city amidst rising cases of the virus in the Pine Tree State.
On Thursday, school kids in Maine’s largest city had to put masks back on while indoors and on buses after Superintendent Xavier Botana notified the school district of the change earlier this week. Students had temporarily stopped wearing masks in March.
“I understand how disappointing this change may be to many of you who stopped wearing a mask when masking became optional on March 14 at a time of low case counts,” Botana said in a statement. “However, I cautioned at that time that if our school and community data changed, we might need to increase our mitigation strategies, including returning to masking in some schools or district wide.”
Families who chatted with local media — while somewhat supportive of the measures — seemed rather glum about the prospect of having to see their loved ones don a face mask again.
“What a bummer,” David Saili, a brother of a middle school student in the district, told CBS 13. “That’s all I can say, really, it’s so messed up. You know we cannot see people’s smiles anymore.”
“If the professionals you know, people that are doctors, if they tell us that we have to wear a mask, then we have to. I believe it would be foolish of us to fight back or retaliate,” Saili added. “Even if we don’t like it, it has to be done.”
Saili also added this his sister has trouble breathing while wearing the face-covering.
“She says that she has trouble breathing sometimes, you know. It will be hard especially now that it’s going to get hot. She can’t even hear someone properly,” Saili said.
One parent agreed wholeheartedly with the school district’s decision.
“I think anything that’s good for the country, that’s good for people’s safety and life. I agree with that,” Roosevelt Stennett, a Portland School District parent, told the media.
Still, even Stennett appears to be longing for days of normalcy.
“It’s crazy. Like it’s very crazy,” Stennett said. “I don’t know. But I hope sometime we could get, get it done, get rid of it, or something you know?”
“This is now a time of high transmission, but few people in our schools are wearing masks. Adding to the risk is the fact that end-of-year ceremonies and other gatherings are taking place,” Botana claimed. “While we are not recommending changes to these events, all these factors make a return to required masking the safest course at this time.”