Seniors unmask dangers of COVID-19

Benjamin Gietzen and Isabella Yang formed the Wear a Mask San Diego organization.

Seniors unmask dangers of COVID-19

By Ashley Shah

Scripps Ranch High School (SRHS) seniors Isabella Yang and Benjamin Gietzen teamed up to unmask myths and questions surrounding COVID-19. 

Due to the spike in COVID-19 cases, Gietzen and Yang formed the organization Wear a Mask San Diego. 

“When cases started to go back up in San Diego in July, I think there was a level of frustration about how there was a lack of progress being made to lower cases. Seeing businesses being closed and the uncertainty surrounding everyday life made us realize that we had to create a movement to help,” co-president Gietzen said. 

The organization is comprised of 11 SRHS seniors: Isabella Yang, Benjamin Gietzen, Mark Rusnak, Amy Tran, Ashley Nguyen, Varshi Gottumukkala, Melinda Luo, Hannah Lee, Vaishnavi Ventrapagada, Kate Rees and Derek Phan. 

Their goal is to inform the public about the effective ways of preventing COVID-19 – which will help lower cases and hopefully lead to the reopening of San Diego. 

“There is so much media out there and it’s easy to be confused. I think, for some people, they start to doubt why they are forced to do things such as wearing a mask and we just want to educate people in a way that’s simpler,” co-founder Yang said. 

They are also helping the community by fundraising and making sure everyone has the resources they need to stay safe. 

“Currently, we have set a goal of $1,000 on our GoFundMe so that we are able to buy supplies and make masks. We have gotten some students and others in the community to help make masks so that we can hit our goal each month,” Yang said. 

They are hoping to make 100 masks each month and deliver them to children’s hospitals. 

Not only is the team working on making masks, they are hoping to do more outreach. 

“We are working on making some signs that promote following the guidelines such as wearing masks and social distancing, and we plan to tag our organization on them as well. We are hoping to put up the signs at local businesses so that the community stays informed,” Gietzen said. 

On Oct. 7, the team was scheduled to speak during the Poway-Scripps Rotary Club about ways to prevent COVID-19. 

“We really want to foster collaboration. It’s very important to reach out to people of all different ages and that’s what we are trying to accomplish. As teenagers, we can really make an impact and help out others who are at higher risk, so we’ve really been pushing our social media platforms,” Yang said. 

Gietzen said his main goal is to lower the cases of COVID-19 to reopen San Diego. 

“Every summer I volunteer at a museum and this year I was not able to do so because of the coronavirus. We are dealing with a very serious issue that is affecting the safety of Scripps Ranch and San Diego. I think it is important to show that we are all in this struggle together and if we all work together, we can move toward reopening,” he said.

Outside of Wear a Mask, Gietzen has run for the SRHS cross country and track teams since his freshman year.

Yang has been involved in speech and the debate team since her freshman year. 

“I think for most students and I, COVID-19 has affected us mainly by having to do virtual learning. I think by recognizing how this virus has affected us, it creates a sense of unity and shows how we can work to do better,” Yang said. 

Visit wearamasksd.com.

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