To Mask or Not To Mask

Despite celebrations on airlines when the government officially lifted mask mandates, and protests demanding the end of masking, many students aren’t ready to let go. Kids throughout America are feeling uncomfortable going to school without a mask on. 

Publications across the country such as NPR, The LA Times, and The Guardian are covering this phenomenon, which seems to hit middle schoolers the hardest.  Some students report covid safety concerns, but others simply aren’t comfortable showing their faces.

 The LA Times article, “Middle schoolers can finally take off their masks. Why some really don’t want to,” quoted 8th graders saying, “I think people are still too self-conscious to take off their mask.”  The article pointed out that students are still not used to seeing each other’s faces.

 Whatever the reason, there are still plenty of masks in the classrooms at Longfellow. Though more students are beginning to feel comfortable without them, many are still hanging on.

“I’m sort of holding out to see how this next wave goes,” said journalism teacher Andrea Duggan.  “I’m not as careful as I used to be, but that little barrier just feels like insurance.”

Ms. Duggan also wants to make sure that any students still masking feel comfortable doing so. 

Outside of school, mask-wearing can still cause lots of arguments. But it seems that students are handling the situations more maturely than those who reportedly pick fights in the supermarket. 

“I’ve never really been in any argument,” said student David T. 

In fact, none of the other students I’ve interviewed reported any conflicts or peer pressure. 

“I don’t think I’ve seen any conflicts happening in the halls,” Aleena L. reported.

Martina Cantua can also relate.“I don’t think anyone cares; everyone is just focusing on themselves,” she said. 

Principal Jim Patrick echoed the students, saying that he hasn’t noticed any problems arising due to a division between masked and unmasked students, but suggests contacting your counselor if you are having any problems.

The American Association of Pediatrics reported on March 21, 2022, that about 58% of students between the ages of 12-17 are vaccinated. This allows most students to unmask without needing to cause much of a problem. 

All the while, only 8 million children across the US have yet to be vaccinated. The story is a little different depending on your state or even your district, but in Northern Virginia, the numbers of unvaccinated children remain low. As a result,  unmasking is starting to become more popular within schools.

With the law regarding mask mandates not likely to change any time soon, plenty of students here at Longfellow choose to keep masking up, especially as notices of COVID cases seem to be on the increase. 

“Others have their opinion, but I’m still wearing my mask, and I still feel like I am safe.” said 7th grader Matthew F.

In conclusion, there have been fewer conflicts as time goes on, and fewer people mind others’ decisions.