Serving as a consistently popular question since the original breakout of Covid-19 in 2020, ¨When will masks come off?¨ began to feel as though it didn’t have an answer. Throughout this state of limbo, masks were required in the majority of both private and public spaces. Then came February 2022, during which mask mandate lifts became a bigger reality under official, government initiatives. On February 27th, 2022, the Mayor of New York City, Eric Adams, publicized plans to lift proof of vaccination requirements and mask requirements in several entertainment/leisure spaces. This was followed quickly with plans to lift mandates in public schools within New York City.
With the suspenseful question creeping closer and closer to home, students at The Wheatley School have experienced a variety of emotions and thoughts on the timing of it all. Some believe the push is rushed and abrupt, expressing strong discomfort with the possibility of no masks around classmates. One senior in particular, Lauren Hackett, stated, “I feel like people are excited for all the wrong reasons. The ones who celebrate this the most are also the ones who refused to follow the guidelines that got us here in the first place. Maybe I’ll adjust to it in time but as of now, it’s rather unsafe.¨ Hackett is most definitely not the only one with these concerns, as a classmate of hers, Ian Kim, also claimed, “The plans have lacked an organization in their enforcement. It’s been causing more chaos than good and I´m not ready to take my mask off.¨
Other students within the school have been choosing to approach the change as optimistically as they are carefully. Sarah Hochstein noted, ¨I´m excited about the progress we´ve made and about this big step forward but I will continue to get tested and monitor possible exposure. This shouldn’t be treated as an invitation to recklessness.¨
As we continue to navigate through these uncertain times, it’s important to not only recognize our own boundaries but also those of others. We can only hope this change is a step in the right direction or that we´re at least prepared for whatever is to come.