Returning to Normalcy: Pattonville Moves to Mask-Optional Status


Matthew Jacobi

On February 22, Pattonville resumed its full COVID-19 plan, including going mask-optional, for the rest of the semester.

After about two years of strict COVID-19 rules and procedures they have had to follow, Pattonville students, staff, and visitors no longer have to wear masks on campus.

On February 8, Pattonville announced that it would resume its full COVID-19 plan, including transitioning to a mask-optional environment. The 2% positivity rate threshold was still in place, and if any school reached 2%, masks would be required for at least two weeks.

Pattonville also announced masks would no longer be required on district transportation on March 1.

On March 9, Pattonville updated its COVID-19 guidance once again, removing the 2% threshold as a basis to return to required masking, based on updated CDC guidance on community transmission levels.

“If there is an outbreak of cases at a specific school in the future, the district will review recommendations from the St. Louis County Department of Public Health, the CDC, etc., to make decisions regarding any changes to our mitigation strategies,” Dr. Pecoraro stated in the Superintendent Update letter sent out on March 9.

Masks aren’t the only thing that has changed since the beginning of the semester.

Students no longer have assigned seats or plexiglass barriers at lunch, normal lunch options have returned, the STUCO Store has reopened, and planning for a normal prom and graduation are already underway.

Ms. Moritz, a PHS English teacher, said she currently isn’t wearing a mask to school. “I’m not sure what prompted the change (it was pretty sudden), but I typically don’t wear one unless I know I’m with someone who is compromised.”

“I do not think that COVID is over,” Ms. Moritz added, “However, I do feel better having been vaccinated, boosted, and also having already had COVID. Unfortunately, mask-wearing has been politicized and I don’t think we’ll ever come to a consensus.”

Junior Maliyah Harris is currently continuing to wear a mask at school.

“It makes me feel so much safer when I’m not sure if other high school students are previously vaccinated,” Harris said.

Harris said that political beliefs played a major role in her decision to continue to wear a mask.

“My family is very progressive so our decision definitely reflected our beliefs from the beginning of the pandemic,” she said.

Harris believes that masks should be required for unvaccinated individuals.

“As a democrat, I find it imperative that students and staff members are required to be vaccinated. As the pandemic digresses the risk of COVID-19 is decreasing. Therefore, it should be of the utmost importance to restrict students and staff members’ choice to wear a mask if not previously vaccinated,” she said.

“I will never continue to play into the theory that COVID-19 no longer exists,” Harris added. “However, I will entertain the theory that COVID-19 is or has been weakened over the course of the pandemic.”

With the news that new variants might be underway towards the end of the semester, Pattonville could return to masks if there are specific outbreaks at schools, but for now, all schools will continue to be mask-optional for the rest of the semester.