Connecticut Must Re-think its Masking Laws

Masks have played a critical role in protecting against COVID-19, but their time is up. Masks are causing more pain and inconvenience than they are helping our community with safety against COVID-19.

Connecticut’s government website states that Executive Order No. 9 and No. 13A “provide the authority to require masks in schools, childcare facilities, and certain higher-risk settings.” This order is in effect until February 15, 2022. While the mask mandate is a noble effort by the government to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, it fails to recognize institutions like Hotchkiss that have protected their communities against the virus through vaccines.

Public and private schools that serve youth under 12 or lack protection through institutional vaccine mandates clearly benefit from the current statewide masking policy. Vaccines are crucial protection against the virus and without them, masking is absolutely necessary. Originally, vaccines provided a 90% protection rate from hospitalization (CDC COVID-NET Study), and even after the arrival of the highly infectious Delta variant, vaccines have provided an 84% protection rate (24 weeks from final recommended dose) from hospitalization (CDC study). More than 99% of the Hotchkiss community is protected from COVID-19 by vaccines, and therefore do not benefit from mask mandates.

Positive cases are an unavoidable reality that need to be acknowledged. However, they are rare in a fully vaccinated community like Hotchkiss. We are fortunate to be an institution that is almost fully vaccinated, so if we do have positive cases, they are unlikely to cause hospitalization. According to Niche, more than 96% of the student body lives on-campus, and all student-facing faculty and staff are vaccinated. This bubble is unique; therefore we should be able to follow an equally unique protocol.

Currently, masking is doing more harm than good in our community. The school’s vaccination rates and policies render masking unnecessary in the current atmosphere of the COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, the Connecticut State Government should reconsider and revamp its masking policies to be appropriate for all entities affected by them, and more specifically, should consider removing the mask mandate for Hotchkiss and other enclosed boarding schools in Connecticut.