How Are NPHS Students Feeling Without Masks?

Top+Row%3A+Kayleigh+Wilson%2C+Miranda+Bournique%2C+Ei+Thazin%2C+Sienna+Barbarisi%0ABottom+Row%3A+Anna+Grossgold%2C+Beatriz+Ferreira+takahashi%2C+Mayuri+Rajakaruna+%28Christina+Alexandrov+not+pictured%29

Top Row: Kayleigh Wilson, Miranda Bournique, Ei Thazin, Sienna Barbarisi Bottom Row: Anna Grossgold, Beatriz Ferreira takahashi, Mayuri Rajakaruna (Christina Alexandrov not pictured)

Sofia Espaillat , staff writer

March 7th, 2022 is a day hundreds of students across the country will never forget. After nearly twenty-four months of social distancing and wearing masks, students were given the long awaited opportunity to attend school mask-free. 

NPHS students had to think all the way back to March 13th, 2020 to remember the last time they were able to walk down the hallways, attend class, and even participate in athletics and other extracurricular activities without having to worry about sporting a mask. 

While most students greeted this step forward with a great amount of excitement, support, and enthusiasm, others are remaining cautious. Numerous students in the buildings are continuing to wear their masks, a sign of their concern in keeping themselves and those around them safe. 

As we approach over a month of school where masks have become a thing of personal preference, I spoke to a few students to check in and see how they are feeling about this new rule. 

Kayleigh Wilson, Junior:  “Walking in, it was, like, really weird because I didn’t know whether I should wear a mask or not, and how other students were gonna react. So I kind of felt pressured by different people. Like if everyone was wearing a mask, then I probably would have worn mine too, you know? But I feel like a lot of students weren’t necessarily listening to the rules anyway, like the mask was always below their nose. I feel like on a basis of spreading the virus, nothing’s really going to change.”

Miranda Bournique, Freshman:  “I think that [not having to wear a mask in school] is good because it’s showing that we don’t have to worry as much about COVID. It’s kind of a turning point that we are getting back to normal.” 

Ei Thazin, Freshman:  “I think not having masks any more is really great. We get to see people without their masks and I guess it makes it more comfortable for other people. I know that a ton of people find masks annoying, including me, so I’m really enjoying not having to wear one.” 

Sienna Barbarisi, Junior:  “I feel completely safe lifting the mask mandate. Not only did the staff and teachers seem like it would be safe to remove this mandate, but professionals in the state discussed this problem and decided to continue with this decision in a safe way. I believe that the school is primarily focused on the well-being of others, and there are plenty of directions put on the students and staff to continue through this pandemic with helpful insight. And there’s still sterilization products laid out within the entire school, and anyone who does not feel comfortable is not obligated to take off their mask. So the mask mandate [being removed] does not bother me.” 

Anna Grossgold, Freshman:  “I honestly think the school should have made masks optional earlier, but the school environment now is, overall, pretty good and has adapted to COVID well. Our school also didn’t have as many cases as other schools, so I think removing the mandate was the right decision.” 

Beatriz Ferreira Takahashi, Freshman:  “It’s so nice without the mask because I get to see everyone’s faces, and I can completely understand what people say. It also gives me a sense that we are going back to normal. However, I do understand how this can bring anxiety to so many people because we were used to being behind our masks all the time.” 

Mayuri Rajakaruna, Freshman:  “It’s definitely weird to see some people’s faces without masks. It’s crazy that we went from a school year with masks being mandatory and now we have the freedom to take it off. I respect people who keep it on but I’m taking it off as I feel comfortable with COVID now, and being vaccinated I know I’m protected.” 

Christina Alexandrov, Senior:  “I think the school has become closer. The mask was kind of a hindrance to what we could do. When we lifted the mask mandate, more of the events started happening and in person that were cancelled in years prior. As a senior, it’s really fun because it finally feels like our year is coming back to normal after two years.” 

Although mostly in support of removing their masks, these students have no problem respecting the decisions of others. Despite moving farther into a school year that has begun to appear more normal than ever, it is important to remember that masking is a personal choice NPHS students have the freedom to make for themselves.