Zero COVID-19 cases allow Webb to become mask-optional again


Jovana Luna

Kaitlyn Metz (‘25) and Christina Young (‘25) are studying in the Hooper Community Center during their free block, unmasked. “I am happy that we are able to unmask indoors now; it is nice to see what everyone’s faces really look like,” Kaitlyn said.

After a rocky start to the 2022-2023 school year, the spike in COVID-19 cases among members in the Webb community has finally come to a rest. As a result, the Medical Advisory Board recently made some changes in the pandemic policies at Webb. In the upcoming months, they hope that we can completely return to normalcy.  

During the mornings of October 6th and 7th, Melanie Bauman, Director of Wellness, announced to both WSC and VWS during bi-school assemblies that masking would no longer be required indoors, that testing would only be mandatory for symptomatic students, and that day students would be allowed in dorm rooms and lounges once again. Additionally, individuals no longer need to wear masks at larger events with over 100 attendees present, such as chapel and community dinner. These new changes are in response to the decline in cases among the student population in recent weeks.  

The student body has reacted positively to these new changes, which was first evident by the cheering crowds that celebrated as the new policies were announced in the Liu Chung Theater. Rows of students from all grade levels were seen standing and clapping in relief and excitement. 

“I love the new policy, I think it’s time that this happened since many Webb kids already don’t wear masks,” said Francesca Lascano (‘23).  

Like Francesca, many other community members also agree that “it’s time” these changes are finally implemented.  

“Webb has been airing on the cautious side for too long and basically every other school in the country hasn’t had a masking policy this year, so I feel like it’s a step towards normalcy,” said Ryan Weigand (‘23). 

Despite the fact that Webb is experiencing a decrease in the spread of positive cases, experts in the community have considered other factors as well, such as the spread of COVID-19 in the Los Angeles County as a whole.  

Groups like the Medical Advisory Board, the Infectious Disease Board, as well as university, college, and K-12 guidelines for COVID-19 have played a major role in decisions of concerning appropriate precautions for the Webb community to follow.  

“We have to track that we are no longer having more outbreaks or cluster infections since the county requires us to wear masks at that point,” Ms. Bauman said. “When we finally got rid of the clusters and hit zero positive tests, we knew that it was a good time to take that risk and return to a more normal state.”  

Last year, the community also experienced small periods of time in which a mask-optional policy took place. However, these regulations unfortunately lasted for only a couple of days before medical experts reevaluated the situation due to an increase in cases.  

So, how long can we expect this fall’s rules to last? While it is impossible to predict exactly how long we will remain mask-free, Ms. Bauman and the Medical Advisory Board expect to see another spike in COVID-19 cases around the months of December and January after students return from the winter break, since sicknesses tend to spread when individuals travel. 

This has been a common concern among some students who are aware that these policies are temporary and can be adjusted at any time depending on the circumstances of the community.  

“I’m worried about the possibility that COVID may surge like it did last year and we will have to return to required masking,” said Camile Casper (‘24). 

Fortunately, due to the Health Center’s thorough evaluation of the community, students seem to have a lot of trust in the recently announced policies. Students and faculty alike feel safe knowing that these rules were implemented only when authorities believed it was truly appropriate. 

Moving forward, Ms. Bauman suggests that we remain extra cautious in the upcoming months, but to also be present in the moment and enjoy the relaxed rules that we have in place now.