By Kaitlyn Bell
At the height of what felt like a never ending crisis, the world came together and put in place a series of solutions in the hopes of preventing long term harm. Now that the dust has settled and society has become adjusted to the effects of COVID-19, we can go as far as to say that some have become too comfortable.
For the first couple of months of the outbreak everyone was in a panic, trying to understand what COVID-19 was, how to handle it and what it truly meant for the world moving forward. Now that we have passed the peak of cases and lockdown is no longer in place it is safe to say that the United States has a good understanding on how to tackle this virus. Whether in regard to hospital cases, outbreaks, or any other number that can be statistically shown, there is a much safer number than during the height of the pandemic. Especially considering the easier access to vaccination, where the age limit has recently been lowered to the age of 5 and above, you can say that the United States is COVID prepared.
“So what if I'm not wearing a mask, what are they going to do about it, kick me out...”
Yet, looking back to lockdown, remembering the fear and hopelessness that so many felt, some have adjusted their minds to the world post pandemic, while others are, to simply put it, done. By ignoring mask mandates, which is easily done with lackadaisical enforcement, this is one way some decide to show it. Masks have been a part of the post COVID culture for over two years and at least for a while, don’t seem to be going away just yet. While some places do not require or enforce masks, specifically with vaccination, most do. Those who ignore the mask mandate when in a place that requires a mask simply to make a “statement” of discontentment are ignorant or clearly not educated enough about the virus.
At our very own New Hyde Park Memorial, as of recently, the entire student body and staff has access to the COVID-19 vaccine. For some of the younger students who are still 11, the lowered age requirement has now made it possible to be vaccinated. Along with this comes the in-school mask mandate, which by New York State guidelines require a mask to be worn indoors. Due to the Omicron variant, which has recently rapidly spread, the mask mandate is being taken more seriously by the state. Established on Monday, December 13, New Yorkers are now required to wear a mask whenever in any indoor place, regardless of vaccination status, following the order from Gov. Kathy Hochul.
Considering that the Omicron variant is a threat to any kind of safety we faced after the height of the pandemic, it is important that it is taken seriously. The rapid increase of cases has spiraled since Thanksgiving and has only gotten worse, bringing a familiar feeling to the peak of the pandemic. Hospitalization numbers and infection rates are at its highest since April and many have been forced back into quarantine, which we have recently seen at NHP. Yet, the incoming commissioner of Nassau County, Bruce Blakeman, is not enforcing the mask mandate along with some other commissioners in New York.
“We are not in a crisis here in Nassau County,” said Bruce Blakemen on a morning news conference when asked about his decision.
While it is ultimately up to each county to decide based on their current numbers and other factors, not enforcing the mask mandate seems politically guided. By not enforcing the mandate, many may see it as an opportunity to ignore masks altogether, or pretend it is an accessory when required rather than a PPE guideline. In some cases, this has even translated over to the students at NHP, where some walk the hallways with their mask under their nose or chin. While it’s understandable that some may have a hard time wearing a mask for the full eight-hour day, those who ignore the requirement of a mask for most of the day are clearly motivated by other reasons.
Some students and staff have also taken it upon themselves to use full class periods as “mask breaks” and keep their masks down throughout the class period. Some select staff, who are generally supposed to encourage and enforce the wearing of masks, also wear their masks below their noses during class. This only increases the number of students who follow suit because, if the teacher or those in charge of them are not wearing it, they won’t enforce it and if they can do it some believe they can, too.
Source by Hannah Kim
Some have been hesitant to keep their masks on and follow the indoor mask policy.
There have been many occasions where students have been reminded to put their masks on properly, including Dr Faccio’s recent announcement on the loudspeaker. The security guards walk the hallways, and are constantly reminding students to pull their masks up. With the new Omicron variant, students and staff should be taking the mask mandate more seriously and trying to protect themselves and those around them. To prevent the spread of infection and possible quarantine we can hope some put aside their pride and discomfort to keep everyone safe. It is understandable that when not required some choose to not wear a mask; that is ultimately the individual's decision. However much someone chooses to protect themselves when not required is their choice; while the use of a mask sounds safer, some willfully ignore the option. But, in a setting where it is required, like at school, where most are following the rules, you should too.
“We’re not doing this to win any popularity contest,” said Kathy Hochul, defending the mask mandate. This is completely agreeable; the overall enforcement of masks may not fit in with the rest of the world, but is in the best interest of New Yorkers.
“So what if I'm not wearing a mask, what are they going to do about it, kick me out?” is a phrase I have overheard plenty of times; personally I believe it to be an enigma. Some believe that it is against their “constitutional rights” to be required to wear a mask, while others believe “COVID isn’t real,” or isn’t as serious as the news makes it out to be. Especially for those who are law abiding citizens, the use of a mask would be in their best interest. But some simply stick to their opinions and have not become accustomed to the fact that it overall won’t cause any harm to wear a mask, and can only benefit the general population and yourself. Especially with the rise of new cases, we don’t want to fall back into another crisis and cause what everyone dreads: lockdown. Masks have been shown to prevent or lower the risk of infection, so even if it only slightly impacts the infection rate, I believe it’s better safe than sorry.