New APS Mask Guidelines Puzzle Environmentally Conscious Students


Caroline Feagin

New Rules, New Concerns: With the suggestion of using only surgical masks, students like junior Sarah-Anne Hamilton question how this will impact the environment.

The Holiday Season is great! A break from school, family visits, and even an opportunity to indulge in treats without fear of judgement. What wasn’t fun this holiday season was the rise of Omicron and how it bedridden numerous students and disrupted the fun of festivities. To combat Omicron and its effects on the student body, APS revised its mask policy. In the new guidelines, cloth masks are now highly discouraged because they have been proven to not be effective. While revising these guidelines to cope with this new virus can be positive, it’s still important to think about the consequences of surgical masks being the new norm.

The advantage that cloth masks had over surgical and KN95 masks is their environmental friendliness. Disposable masks have been commonly criticized for their contribution to the growing amounts of waste around the world. Pollution is a rapidly growing issue that has puzzled the minds of environmentalists looking for solutions. Coronavirus has only furthered their desperate need for answers.

There is already a huge waste problem in North Atlanta with used masks being scattered around the building and in the parking deck. The Environmental Club has tried to face this issue head on, but to no avail. Junior Sarah Anne Hamilton finds the number of masks around the building to be a problem. “A lot of people just throw their masks everywhere and don’t dispose of them in the proper ways,” she said.

It’s easy to brush off these concerns as dramatic or unwarranted. But several students aren’t at ease with the number of masks being wasted by over 2,000 kids at North Atlanta. Juliet Joyce, a junior and member of the Environmental Club, sees the new mask policy as important but worrying. “I wish we had other options that were more environmentally sustainable,” she said.

Whether you’re upperclassmen or underclassmen, the effects of environmental waste and pollution have a strong effect on us all. It’s important to understand that APS’ new mask policy is designed to protect us. But we must also acknowledge the issues that can arise with banning the only form of sustainability that masks offer.