The removal of the mask mandate in New Jersey was the topic of every conversation leading up to March 7th, 2022. Many students found themselves feeling more apprehensive than expected, and one student said they “wanted to see how my friends and the rest of the students were reacting to the lifting before I decided whether I wanted to wear my mask.” Others were less tense and just glad to finally be free of masks.
Before the mask mandate was lifted, the school released a message through the announcements regarding the decision of students and staff to wear masks, stating that no one should discriminate against anyone who chose to remove or keep their masks on. This highlighted the reason why many students felt overly conscious of who was wearing a mask, with one student who chose to keep their mask on saying that they “didn’t expect to see so many people both wearing a mask and not wearing one… I just assumed most people wouldn’t.” Another student said that “the pandemic is not as intense as it was before, and with all the vaccines and boosters, I think the situation is safer.” Many students felt that the medical developments fighting Covid-19 had considerably slowed the pandemic and that masks were not as imperative as they once were.
Right now, the general consensus seems to be a sense of relief mixed with a slight hesitancy due to the changing norms. Masks are all anyone has known for almost two years, and many agreed with one student when they commented that “even though taking off masks feels like a step to what life was like before Covid, I feel weirdly uncomfortable and exposed without it on.” However, this generation has become flexible to change in light of the global pandemic, with most of the student population understanding other people’s choices even if they may differ from their own. No matter what personal opinion is, the lifting of the mask mandate marks a milestone in both our school and in history.
Graphic: Gina Vaynshteyn