By: Maria Garcia-Coronel and Taiyana Levy (Senn Students)
On February 28th, Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot and Public Health Commissioner Allison Awry removed the mask and vaccine requirements for certain public spaces. Chicago Public Schools announced on March 7th, that the mask requirement will be lifted, and wearing a mask will be optional for students starting yesterday.
Senn High School looked ever-so-slightly different today when you entered the door. Only a few students took off their masks following the lifting of the mandate. Looking at the hallways, you saw about 95% still wearing masks a school. Many students feel as if it is way too early to take them.
Still, others see this as the opportunity to show off their face.
“I personally don’t like wearing my mask because I have eczema and it irritates my skin,
”Brianna Gomez, a Senn Junior who went maskless on Monday, said.
Ukemeobong Obidiegwu, another Senn Junior said, “I want everyone to see my face and want to be myself with a little more freedom. It’s been like two years since we are in the pandemic. It’s my decision on wearing my mask.”
Kyra Shae-Cole, a sophomore at Senn High School said, “I’m very happy we won’t have to wear masks anymore. It’s hard to breathe under these things.” Wearing masks has definitely taught us new breathing techniques because masks can make breathing very difficult.
While some folks are very happy about things getting back to normal, some are skeptical of this change.
Ramiyah Lee, another sophomore at Senn said, “I’m happy things are getting back to normal, but it’s going to take me a while to get used to not wearing a mask.”
Some take the issue more to heart, including those who are immunocompromised or know someone else who is.
Miriam Dolnick, an art teacher at Senn High School said, “I am so eager to not have to wear a mask every day. But it doesn’t feel quite safe to me yet because I’m immunocompromised.”
If you have compromised immunity, or live with someone who does, it may be a good idea to continue to wear a mask.
Dolnick continued, “When I lost my pregnancy, I had emergency surgery where I also lost my spleen. My immune system doesn’t work quite as effectively as it did before. This means I’m more susceptible to COVID and I’m more susceptible to specific infections, which would lead me to go to the hospital. It could be very dangerous for me.”
Some believe that without masks COVID cases are going to rise back up.
Dolnick said, “Infection rates and hospitalizations are down, which is wonderful. But I believe having mask mandates, having vaccine requirements is part of the reason those numbers went down. So I really do worry that if we remove masks at this time, it will lead to those numbers rising again, especially in a school context.”
Taylor Flaherty, another teacher at Senn said, “I’m happy that CPS is making the mask mandate optional. We have students who have a variety of different diseases and immune disorders, or their family members going through chemotherapy. So I’m happy that we are going to have the masks continue, just to make sure that students feel comfortable coming to school and don’t need to take any more time out of their education.”