The Community of Aledo Needs to Take the Pandemic Seriously

Olivia Caggiano and Cassidy Cole

It has now been eight months since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S. The total number of cases has surpassed 13 million and the total number of deaths has surpassed 272,000. And yet, for some reason, the country has continued to go about life as normal, with many schools still in person and restaurants, bars and other public places still open. Aledo has been no exception. With cases rising exponentially, the community of Aledo (with the exception of the school district) continues to pretend that COVID-19 poses no real threat. 

Parker County does not have a mask mandate in place, leaving mask guidelines up to individual businesses. While many businesses in Aledo encourage masks, few actually require that their customers wear masks inside. Though the encouragement of COVID-19 precautions does help, encouragement alone is not enough to make a difference. Such precautions must be carried out, and enforced in order to largely affect the prevention of COVID-19.

A common argument brought about by the discussion of COVID-19 enforcement is that it may affect the number of long-term customers a business has. In a business, the enforcement of wearing masks and other such precautions may negatively affect the number of customers, and with it, the business’s profit. Though this is an understandable fear for smaller businesses, a very small percentage of customers are dissuaded by mask mandates.

Cases within the school district spiked following Halloween weekend. Several parties had multiple attendees test positive for COVID-19. Unfortunately, not all of the students who went to these parties quarantined themselves or got tested following their exposure to the virus. When a student tests positive, other students that were around them have been asking them not to report their presence at the party, meaning a lot of students who were exposed continue to come to school and go to practices. This poses a dangerous threat to the district’s attempts to keep schools open and in person, as well as the continuation of sports, clubs and other school-related activities. 

There are several arguments repeatedly presented in situations like these. High school students, especially seniors, want to enjoy the company of their friends on the weekends, COVID-19 isn’t as severe as the media makes it out to be, exposed students don’t want to stay home because online school is too difficult, athletes don’t want to miss important games and that being asked to stay home and mask up is an infringement upon personal freedoms. There are few things more selfish than these excuses.

In the midst of a global pandemic, it is important to make sacrifices for the safety of neighbors. Just because you may not know anyone personally who has had a severe case of COVID-19 or possibly passed away from it, does not mean it is not a pressing issue in our community. Numbers do not lie, and Parker County has over 3,100 cases. We have to take responsibility as a community and commit to keeping gatherings to a minimum and mask wearing to a maximum so we can keep each other safe and keep participating in sports, clubs and school.

The high school is having difficulty with students keeping their masks on, more specifically, the Daniel Ninth Grade Campus. Some students disregard teachers’ requests to keep their masks on and pulled over their nose, and teachers do not have a punishment in place to control it. Despite the importance of wearing masks in helping prevent the spread of COVID-19, teachers do not have a system in place to enforce the rule. In the students’ refusal to wear masks, and the inability to mandate it, potential exposure to the virus is more likely among students and staff alike.

The extent which Aledo can enforce COVID-19 precautions is debatable. While schools can mandate that masks must be worn at all times, whether or not students listen is an additional factor to the virus’s prevention. But in its current state, schools do not punish, or even largely acknowledge the refusal to wear masks. Though schools may not be able to completely control the wearing of masks, there is more to be done in discouraging students from refusing.

In preventing further spread of the virus, it is a necessity for the Aledo community as a whole to emphasize and enforce precautions for COVID-19. It is pivotal for businesses, teachers and students alike to recognize the seriousness of COVID-19, and also take responsibility in preventing its spread.