HMHS Students, Staff React to the End of Mask Mandates

Quincy Palmateer and Kathryn Ward, Staff Writers

After two years of it being ingrained into us that we have to wear masks almost any time we leave our house, we no longer have to wear them when going to school. This somewhat abrupt change to our everyday life came as a shock to some, and as something two years in the making to others. While some have chosen to keep wearing their masks as a precaution, many have chosen to stop wearing them. Members of our school community all have their own views on this change, ranging from positive, to neutral, to negative, and all of their opinions are valid. 

Many have positive feelings towards the end of the mask mandate. One student recounts, “I’m really happy about the mask mandate being lifted. I feel like since I’ve worn my mask throughout the entire pandemic and I am triple vaxxed it is safe for me to not wear a mask at school.” Those who feel like they have done everything they can to keep themselves and others safe are now able to reap those rewards and not have to worry about wearing masks at school.

It makes me feel like I’m finally getting a seminormal year”

— Ria Khanna

Another student, Ria Khanna, brings up a good point when she says, “It makes me feel like I’m finally getting a seminormal year, which the last time high school felt like this was two years ago. It’s also easier to connect with people in my classes because I can see their whole face.” Undoubtedly, the introduction of masks, and this entire pandemic, has made communicating and feeling connected to others quite difficult, now we are able to go back to connecting with one another how we did before the pandemic started.

Like many of the students, several teachers and administrators are additionally excited about the end of wearing masks to school: “I’m elated. It’s terrific to get to a point that masks aren’t needed or required. I think the students handled it very well with the mandate and now it’s great to see people without masks and feeling good about it” agreed humanities teacher Mr. Busarello. It definitely seems as though many people are happy about this change but there are definitely reasons why some might be hesitant to remove their masks or to feel certain that this is the right thing to do at this time. 

The hesitant or neutral feelings that many people have regarding this topic are completely understandable. When asked about their feelings towards the ending of the mask mandate so far, one student explains, “It’s chill, I just wish people would wear one if they’re sick.” This view is completely justified and understandable. It is to be expected that after two years of being in constant fear of getting sick that we continue to be hesitant to be around people who are openly sick without a mask. Another student, Lilliana Kuball, shared a similar point of view when she said, “I’m trying my best to wear my mask until after my big swim meet to stay healthy, but I can’t wait to take it off after! I do get a little uncomfortable when people cough without covering their mouths, though. It is allergy season, so people are coughing a lot.” Her description of her feelings toward the end of the mask mandate not only shares the view that many have, that it still feels a little uncomfortable to be around people who appear to be sick, but it also shows one of the many reasons why some people in our school are continuing to wear masks. 

Many students, especially those involved in upcoming performances or sporting events are refraining from taking off their masks, just to be extra careful. One of these students, Joseph Keegan, recalls, “For me, not much has changed! I just want to make sure everyone is at their own comfort level. If they want to take their mask off – do it! If they want to keep their mask on – do it!” Similarly, Mrs. McHale explains, “I’m happy there are no masks, but I feel it’s important that people feel comfortable wearing one when needed!”

Their views on people’s decisions to wear or not wear their masks are ones that should be shared by all people in our school, ensuring that everyone is at their comfort level and does not feel pressured or pulled one way or the other. With this optional policy placed in our school community, it is important that our school provides an environment where everyone, students and teachers alike, feel comfortable, especially when it comes to something as complex, unprecedented, and ever-changing as this pandemic.