To mask or not to mask?


Calista Ancog

Moanalua student wearing a mask while reading a Na Hoku News magazine

All Hawaii public school students are no longer required to wear masks on campus according to the state Department of Education. The DOE followed the state Department of Health’s (DOH) announcement that the general public no longer be required to wear masks indoors.  Both the DOE strongly urge students to continue using them, especially in enclosed spaces and if they are susceptible to infection.

In support of students masking up as well, Moanalua High School Principal Robin Martin encourages Moanalua students to continue wearing masks indoors. However, wearing masks both indoors and outdoors will remain optional for students. 

“We should be able to choose whether we want to wear a mask or not…I’m pretty sure the situation with COVID got better, so we shouldn’t be worried,” junior Vinson Tran said. 

Other students don’t mind the encouragment, or even support it. 

“I was already planning on wearing a mask, so it doesn’t affect me much,” freshman Angelica Burguillos said.

 “COVID is still rampant with new variants that are harder to beat, so I think they care for us students and our safety,” junior Ethan Villarante said,

Besides masks, Moanalua still asks students, teachers, and staff to be considerate of others and stay at home if experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms. When symptom-free, individuals may return to school. 

The DOE issued a list of updated guidance July 22:

  • Indoor and outdoor masking is optional for students and employees, but highly encouraged. The Department recognizes the benefits of masking for reducing the spread of COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses and any student or employee who chooses to wear a mask will have that decision respected.
  • In the event of a cluster or outbreak, masks may temporarily be required indoors.
  • Indoor masking is strongly encouraged when the CDC determines community levels are medium or high. CDC community levels are updated weekly on Thursdays on their website. As of the date of this email, state levels show all islands as medium or high, so indoor masking is strongly encouraged.
  • Quarantine is not required for in-school exposures, but indoor masking is strongly recommended for 10 days following an exposure.
  • Quarantine still applies for non-school and household exposures when someone is not up to date with COVID-19 vaccinations for their age group.
  • Isolation requirements remain for anyone who tests positive for COVID or has COVID-like symptoms.