Students, faculty reflect on proper mask etiquette


Comic by Max Stith

With Winter Break approaching, students and faculty reflect on the importance of wearing masks properly.

James Li, Staff Writer

Sophomore Lia Symer was working an assignment during class when she saw a student pull down his mask to sneeze.

“I saw it happen, and quickly reminded him to pull his mask back up,” said Symer. “For me, his action was an egregious violation of mask etiquette.”

When Symer notices that someone’s mask has slipped under their nose, she feels obligated to remind them to adhere to safety protocols.  

“Wearing your mask correctly is such a simple thing, but it can potentially save lives,” Symer said. “The mask isn’t effective unless it’s covering both your nose and mouth.” 

According to researchers at the University of North Carolina, “the nose is the dominant initial site from which lung infections are seeded.” The virus is transmitted through water droplets from sneezes, coughs and breathing.

Sophomore Alexa Christensen has observed people exhibiting differing levels of concern for contracting the virus. She believes some neglect COVID-19 measures because they are indifferent about contracting the virus. 

“A big part of mask etiquette is consideration for others,” Christensen said. “Even if you’re not super concerned about getting COVID-19, there are people around you who are at higher risk for developing severe illnesses or live with especially vulnerable grandparents, and you should respect that.”

Upper School Dean of Students Bailey Duncan states that the primary goal of enforcing mask wearing is keeping everyone at school safe.

“I know that wearing a mask can be inconvenient,” Duncan said, “but it is essential to promote a safe and healthy environment on campus.” 

Although Christensen believes that eating outside is the best option, she thinks that it is also acceptable for people to quickly take off their mask to take a drink when properly distanced in a room with only a few people. However, junior Elizabeth He maintains that taking off a mask should happen exclusively outside. 

“I don’t feel comfortable with people eating or drinking inside,” He said. “I can understand how it’s a bit difficult having to leave the room every time you need to take off your mask, but it’s a necessary precaution.” 

Freshman Benjamin Lu says that, ultimately, the best way to prevent the transmission of COVID-19 is to frequently remind others around you about mask etiquette.

“You don’t have to be mean about it,” Lu said. “I don’t think anyone will get offended as long as you are polite.”

Lu adds that mask etiquette rules should still apply when students are out of school over winter break.

“It’s tempting to interact with your friends over the holidays,” Lu said, “Making bad decisions is an easy way to spread COVID-19.”

Christensen adds that the St. John’s community has overall done a good job of helping each other remember COVID-19 guidelines.

“Everyone forgets sometimes, but when you forget, your friends will be there to remind you to stay safe.”