Mask Mandates Lifted After Two Years!

The Return to “Normal” Continues – Hidden behind masks for so long we suddenly need to all reintroduce ourselves

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Angelina Perez, Editorial Board

Finally, the mandate for wearing masks indoors has been lifted. The face coverings started around March 2020 after the outbreak of COVID appeared in local cities. It took the world by storm, and the months that followed were ones of agony, including long school hours through glitchy Zoom calls and cohorted days. Masks were required in all closed spaces with the exception of someone eating or drinking when in a cafe or restaurant; it was a time no one wanted to live through. It was evident that there was uncertain fear of what could happen next. “What if I got sick? What if someone else got sick?” In the spark of the new school year, Brewster made the effort to allow students to be able to go to school without having to be remote, but this required mask mandates, six-feet distances and isolated classrooms. The social distancing and face coverings split people apart. You couldn’t interact with your friends at lunch or see your teachers’ faces. In some aspects, it was refreshing to be able to go back to school, do activities, and see friends. Deep, deep down however, it still felt lonely. How connected are we if we have to have a measured distance between us?
Now, masks are optional indoors, but necessary in some facilities such as hospitals, doctor offices, and some private businesses. More than a million students in NYC public schools are no longer required to wear masks indoors, which includes our very own BHS. With this new revelation, students and teachers have been somewhat divided in their views of whether or not masks should be lifted. I interviewed students with how they’re responding to the news. Some express their relief at not having to wear one, “At first, I was scared, ‘oh hell no’, but now I like not wearing a mask,” while others state their willingness to continue wearing a mask, “I don’t think COVID is entirely gone so I feel safe continuing to wear one.” There are also opposing ideals for wearing masks, a few are rather neutral, “I honestly don’t have an opinion.” Along with the mask requirement being taken away, seating and cafeteria changes have been set, as well. You’re now able to sit together at tables for lunch and eat with your friends. Say goodbye to the days of those ominous separated desks, and hello to the circle tables where memories are formed. Along with that, more opportunities for clubs are available, such as field trips and club activities in different locations. Regardless of whether or not you agree with the mask mandate lifting, it’s important to note that whatever someone decides, you must be respectful of their decision. It’s sad to see so much fighting and chaos because of something as simple as a mask. Let’s let this time be a time of healing, learning and communication. We all need it.
On a lighter note, it’s interesting how different people look when they have a mask on and when they don’t. It’s evident that we haven’t seen real faces in a while, and when you see someone you know, it’s like, “What the…you look mad different!” In addition to that, a lot of people’s social skills have depleted during quarantine. It’s fair to say how painful it is to start and keep conversations going nowadays. Hopefully, we can get back that bit of sociability with more mandates opening back up. All in all, it’s nice to see the change in environment and see the faces of close friends. Things are making transitions and the distribution of vaccines are steadily lowering the number of COVID cases. In a couple months, maybe, we’ll be back to normal.
What are your thoughts about things opening back up? Do you think it’s the right thing to do, or are we still in the midst of a pandemic?

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