On March 1, 2022, Washington’s governor, Jay Inslee, held a press conference with California’s governor, Gavin Newsom, and Oregon’s governor, Kate Brown, to announce that Washington, California, and Oregon will be lifting their mask mandates on March 12, 2022. With this announcement, Northwest’s head of school, Ray Wilson, sent out an email on March 2, 2022 to all students and faculty stating that masks will become optional at The Northwest School on Monday March 14, 2022. Both announcements have generated mixed emotions and reactions, giving many students and faculty time to think about what they will choose to do. No matter the choices our peers and teachers make regarding masks, we will go about our days without judgment.
COVID-19 has now been with us for 2 years, and for some, lifting the mask mandate is scary, whereas others are ready to say “Good riddance” to masks. The decision made by Inslee to lift the mask mandate was made with careful consideration and constant communication with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Seattle Times staff reporter, Elise Takahama states, “The news marks a reflection of recent falling hospitalization and infection numbers…” COVID-19 risk is now measured by the number of hospital beds being occupied by patients with COVID-19. Since the Omicron variant spike and booster shots being approved for everyone ages 12 and up, hospital beds occupied with COVID patients have gone down 70%. With new data and constant updates from the CDC, we as a community are slowly but surely learning to adapt, again, to a new culture of optional masking.