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Mandate yourself
Mask up, even if no one says you have to
covid masks

The increase in COVID-19 cases doesn’t have to continue at its current galloping rate.

For some time now, we’ve heard that wearing masks works. 

While hoping to steer clear of political controversy, Great Bend USD 428 Superintendent Khris Thexton said he believes masks are one thing that has helped our schools remain open this fall. The school employees have also taken steps to socially distance everyone and keep surfaces clean. When students enter the buildings each morning there is someone there to take their temperature. And while temperature checks haven’t necessarily exposed any positive cases of COVID-19, the protocol means children are met at the door and if they aren’t wearing a mask they are asked to put one on.

In our schools, at least, masks are mandatory. And instead of complaining about their right to infect others, students are just happy to do comply so they can be back in school with their friends. The pandemic has made going to school cool.

Adults have been told, “My mask protects you and your mask protects me.” But those who won’t wear masks think they’re being asked to give something up.

Well, here’s some good news -- now there is a selfish reason for wearing a mask. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has updated its guidance on face covering, saying wearing a mask protects you, not only those around you. 

Remember when people smoked cigarettes in public places – including restaurants? Most smokers knew that taking their butts outside was the right thing to do. Some were even thoughtful enough to do so.  Even the restaurant owners wished they would, because second-hand smoke endangers others. But no one was willing to mandate “no smoking” rules for the longest time. Do you think telling smoking customers to “just use your common sense” fixed the problem? No, it took leadership from the local government.

Overprotective government, like overprotective parents, can lead to unintended consequences. But masks have not been mandated at a national or state level. Our local government is left with the role of stepping in if that is required. The county commission has repeatedly chosen to opt out of Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly’s executive order mandating the use of face masks in public places to stem the spread of COVID-19. The county commission and/or local city councils need to reconsider.

Until that happens, everyone just needs to do the right thing, which means wearing a mask in public for most people over 2 years old.