Letters to the Editor: I am a fully vaccinated teacher. Don’t force me to mask up in the classroom

First-grade students attend class while sitting socially distanced and wearing masks
First-grade students attend class at 9th Street Elementary School in Los Angeles on April 13.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: It was with great frustration that I read about California’s requirement that students and teachers must wear masks on campus when the school year begins in the fall.

As a high school teacher for the past 25 years, I am eager to have students back in my classroom full time. I was happy to wear a mask last spring when my school began its partial reopening, but the new guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that vaccinated students should have the option of going maskless.

Forcing teachers and students to wear masks does slow the spread of infection, but it doesn’t come without a cost.


Effective teaching is highly relational. Good teachers not only present clear information, but also encourage and inspire their students. Much of this is done nonverbally, with a smile or facial expression that says, “You can do this.”

I’m convinced the upcoming school year will be very difficult as we confront unprecedented levels of learning loss and depression. I’ll accept the challenge laid out for me; just let me give each one of my students a smile while I do it.

Drew Hettinger, Torrance