Stevenson School has withdrawn the mask policy and resumed events such as the monthly formal dinner and the Back-To-School Dance: it appears that everything is back to normal. Is this really the case? After interviewing our campus faculty and students who reflected on their thoughts on the loosened policy, most of them disagree that the current state is ‘normal’.
English teacher Isabel Aguirre says it’s easier to read student reactions without masks: “It is helpful to see the look of confusion of my students when clarification is needed,” while she also supports students who persist in wearing masks in class. Moreover, she appreciates the absence of frustration regarding constant reminders of proper mask etiquette and respectful COVID distance. However, Aguirre states, “I think that the word ‘Normal’ just assumes that everyone’s coming from the same catalog version of existence, and that is just not how human life, reality, and culture works.”
History teacher Andrew Oster asked his students to wear masks in class in the first couple weeks. “Although transmission rates in this county are down—which is a good thing—I’d feel a little more comfortable having the numbers go down a little bit more.” Oster agrees that learning without masks is more effective because students can understand and identify with each other better. He believes that the campus is one step closer to going back to normal. However, the fact that some portion of the community persists in wearing masks shows how the virus is still an issue. Oster further suggests, “Other mitigation factors might still help stop the virus, like having ventilation, having air purifiers on, teaching outside, and having windows open.”
Even though some students on campus believe that campus life seems to be back to normal, junior Isabella Zuo claims that she disagrees with the assumption, as she believes that there are people on campus who still feel anxious about getting infected by COVID since everyone is in different situations regarding the virus. Isabella states, “There are both positive and negative effects. In the past, it was frustrating when you forgot to wear your mask to class sometimes. And now we also get to see people’s emotions. The negative thing is that is reveals your mood and mental state in class.”
Although the community has not attained the “normality” that existed in the pre-COVID era, our community should progress towards the future where masks has essentially become a part of peoples’ lives.