A New Mask-Free Era With mask mandates lifted, students are given the choice of whether they wear their mask in public or not

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For the past two years, it has been normal for students to go out in public with some sort of facial covering for their health and safety. Nevada’s mask mandate was lifted at the beginning of this year, so sophomore Madison Davis stopped wearing her mask in public. “I hope that things will be able to go back to how they were pre-pandemic,” Davis said. “I think that we have come a long way from where we first started, but hopefully things will get better.”

Crystalyn Estabillo

As COVID-19 cases improve from state to state, certain restrictions are getting lifted as a result. Because of this, many students find themselves having to decide whether or not they will continue to wear their masks out in public. 

“It was hard for me to decide whether I wanted to wear my mask after the mask mandate was lifted,” sophomore Madison Davis said. “I was concerned about the health concerns that I could face, but I felt that people are still going to get COVID whether or not they are wearing a mask. I am still being careful after not wearing my mask, and I completely understand why some people would feel better wearing masks.”

Due to the fact that masks and other facial coverings were used to slow the spread of the disease, as well as protect individual health, sophomore Aeron Pearson believes that it was too early to ease up some of the COVID protocols. 

“Everytime the mandate gets lifted, we suddenly have a rise in COVID cases and people wonder why another mandate gets placed,” Pearson said. “As a society, we need to keep our masks on and get vaccinated. At this rate, all we can do is wait and hope people do that, and we can hopefully return back to normal soon.”

Parents can also play a role in the decisions students make in their lives. Junior Tanner Clay said that he has stopped wearing masks in certain public areas, such as stores, but continues to wear his mask in school to protect the people around him.

“My parents have personally stopped wearing their masks out in public, and I have outside of school as well,” Clay said. “They [his parents] haven’t really pressured me or talked to me about my decision on if I wanted to continue wearing my mask or not, but they don’t necessarily push me to continue wearing my mask everywhere, or to stop wearing my mask everywhere. My parents have given me full choice in what I do with the mask mandate being lifted now.”

For some students, this has caused major uncertainty on whether or not they should take off their masks in any public area. Students such as sophomore Angelynne Tiangco are choosing to continue wearing a mask due to the many lives she saw that were affected by this pandemic. 

“It feels like an extra safety net to just have the reassurance of it on,” Tiangco said. “In my own personal belief, COVID is something that will never go away, but it is something I can prevent myself from catching. I wouldn’t be happy with myself if I was the reason the rest of my family got the virus or any other disease.”

Masks have also hidden what students perceive as imperfections and since wearing masks has been an easy way to hide certain insecurities like acne, their smiles or the way their noses look.  

“I do feel that wearing a mask has created a so-called ‘norm’ due to the fact that people feel self conscious about how they look, so they feel the need to conceal their identity,” Pearson said. “Also, of course due to COVID, people just prefer to wear it as a safer precaution.”

However, other students don’t feel as insecure about their appearance anymore, since people have started to understand that imperfections aren’t worth hiding.

“I do feel that some people are judging me occasionally because I do not have my mask on anymore,” Davis said. “Masks haven’t benefited me from getting over any of the insecurities that I have, such as acne flare ups, since they’ve become a way for me to hide those imperfections from everyone else. I’ve come to the realization that imperfections are normal, and people are eventually going to see what I look like without a mask, so I might as well get it over with sooner or later.”

Now with the mask mandate finally removed in CCSD schools, some students remain weary without the protection of masks. However, others want to take the pandemic as a lesson used to better themselves and their adaptability and ultimately get past the time lost with only positives.

“It might take a while for me to finally grow out of my mask, but I hope to see that everyone finally learns something from this pandemic,” Tiangco said. “It wasn’t just a common disease, but something that put a pause on our past, present, and future. I don’t believe we will ever be comfortable with returning to our own ways, but now be more cautious than ever. In past history, when a global pandemic hit, the world didn’t turn back to how it used to be. It grew in population in technology, in its inner community. I believe that the world will only prosper from this time in our lives.”