The Effects on Students of Removing Masks

How did the removal of the mask mandate impact MHS students?

Blue surgical masks were worn by many MHS students when the mask mandate was in place.

Photo Courtesy of Pam Menegakis on Unsplash

Blue surgical masks were worn by many MHS students when the mask mandate was in place.

Mia Reisman, H&W Assistant Page Director

The mask mandate was removed from schools in New York State on March 7, 2022. Some students were ecstatic about the long-awaited change, excited for the removal of the paper shield that stood between them and the rest of the world. Others were hesitant, fearing the loss of one of their defense mechanisms, a barrier between them and everything else. No matter the person, the removal of masks in school had a colossal impact on student life and their feelings toward school.

Current seniors at MHS hadn’t seen their classmates’ faces since the beginning of sophomore year, going through more than half of their high school experiences breathing through three layers of paper. “Everything was kind of muted,” says Ellie Schwab (‘22). Current seniors of the Class of 2022 at MHS have had anything but a mundane high school experience. They trudged their way through years of school on Zoom, altered schedules, and smiles and faces blocked by masks. When the mandate was removed, it felt unfamiliar. Many students were skeptical about removing their masks, including Liv Bobby (‘22.) Bobby says, “ I was initially hesitant mainly because it felt really foreign to be taking off masks in school.” Some students were hesitant to take off their masks due to the stigma and judgment surrounding them. Schwab says, “Before the mandate was lifted, taking your mask off sometimes could be seen as a sign of disrespect.” The mask had no longer just become a valuable instrument of protection, it was now a symbol, a barrier, of something bigger.

Change was inevitable when the mandate was removed at long last. Feelings toward school and regarding being masked changed substantially. “Not only did it remind me of old times, but it kind of signified new beginnings and change,” says Schwab (‘22) on the mandate being removed. Students, including Bobby and Schwab, felt as though school was fresh and it helped bring the spark back into learning. “I felt happier and more free,” says Schwab. Bobby says, “I think that being able to see other people’s faces made school more fun and normal again.”

The past few years have been grueling. But, with the removal of the mask mandate we can now enjoy taking a step out of the past and into the future. Enjoy seeing change around and let the spark return to school, extracurricular activities, and life in its whole.