Unmask with Caution and Respect

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Augie Hawk, Editorials Editor

As COVID-19 cases rapidly decrease, students will likely have the choice not to wear masks inside once we come back from spring break. But should this be the plan?

After Winter Break, COVID cases jumped, with 24 positive tests and 89 self-reported cases. Similarly, many people plan to travel during March Break, so taking masks off on March 28 could be risky. It’s best, then, to ease into removing masks and wear them for the first two weeks after break while everyone tests. Then, we can mitigate COVID cases from spreading and not have to return to wearing masks after we take them off.

Each community member is living through the pandemic in different circumstances. Some have personal health issues and high COVID risk levels; others have relatives or close contacts designated as high risk. Those who feel more comfortable not wearing masks might take them off immediately when allowed to; others might choose to ease into it. Everyone is entitled to make their own decisions around mask wearing.

Once some of us do take off our masks, we must be ready for social tensions that may arise. Those in our community who aren’t
comfortable, for whatever reason, in a maskless environment should continue wearing a mask and should feel comfortable requesting that their friends or peers do the same when around them.

We as a community should, out of common courtesy, respect those individuals’ wishes. Although it might be an inconvenience, the difficulty of making this request is far harder.

Each individual situation is different, but by rule of thumb, it’s best to respect the wishes of your friends or family at high risk and wear your mask in close proximity to them. Therefore, you can avoid the social tensions and issues that may arise from conflicts around whether or not wearing masks is OK, and you’ll ensure that everyone feels comfortable at school. Respect in these situations is key.

We encourage you not to let masks define your relationship with others. Making judgments on other people based on their choice to wear or not wear a mask, with no knowledge of their personal lives, is silly and not worth endangering a relationship over.

COVID is not something that will go away anytime soon. It’s better to err on the side of caution as we ease out of the norms we’ve gotten so used to; what’s two more weeks after two years? At some point, we will all have to be comfortable moving forward without mask wearing in our lives. For now, let’s just take it one step at a time.