Unmasking politics

Controversial environment since masks have become optional


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A surgical mask that some students choose to wear to school

By Sophia Coronado

Ever since masks have become optional after the down-state Illinois judge declared the mask mandate over, it seems like there’s been a weird environment for staff and students in seeing who’s still wearing masks and who isn’t.

Though students who stopped wearing masks aren’t technically breaking any rules, they still seem to be making a statement, especially in the first few weeks of the lifted mandate when many peers continued to wear masks. 

The new optional mandate seems counterintuitive when we’ve been told to wear masks to protect others. Some staff have noticed the strange environment surrounding masks as well.

Thankfully, according to staff, the controversy surrounding masks has become less of a deal. 

“I think up until the last few weeks, wearing a mask had become political, but now that the indoor mask mandates have been lifted, it has become less political than it was during the heart of the pandemic” Bradley Aney said. 

Another staff member explained whether masks have become political. “Unfortunately, yes,” Gerard Marchand said. 

The beginning of the lifted mask mandate seems to be the most awkward in terms of seeing others’ mask decisions. 

“The first time I didn’t wear a mask in the hallway like a week ago it felt kind of weird. But other than that, not really” Marchand said.

“I was surprised by how many staff, like the first day, did not have them on. Though it’s still recommended. But, the way it is now and cases are really low and everything’s really low so it seems like it’s probably fine”

Though both staff agreed that the environment now is weird, they agreed there’s hope for a less political future. 

“I think that as we continue to move forward with the D158 Mask optional policy, the less weird the environment will be,” Aney said.

“I hope we get to a point where people will respect the right of others to decide whether they want to wear a mask to protect themselves and their loved ones”

It’s clear that most staff and students want to come to a point where they can finally be respected for their opinion, and respect others’ as well. As the time moves on, the environment at school seems to be calming down.

All we can hope is the staff and students without masks are vaccinated for their own safety.