Graphic by Toby Goldfarb ’23
After over a year of mask-wearing and social distancing due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the end may finally be near with new CDC guidance.
“If you are fully vaccinated, you can start doing the things that you had stopped doing because of the pandemic,” Dr. Rochelle Walensky told reporters during a COVID-19 briefing on May 13. “We have all longed for this moment when we can get back to some sense of normalcy.”
Under the recently announced guidance, people who are fully vaccinated with both shots against COVID-19 will no longer need to wear a mask or socially distance unless the state law requires it. This decision was due to the increasing vaccination numbers across the country and the general effectiveness of vaccines, as Walensky cited in her briefing which convinced the CDC to issue this guidance.
In Connecticut, which has some of the highest vaccination numbers in the country with almost half of the population fully vaccinated, most COVID regulations and laws will cease to be in effect starting on May 19. Also happening on May 19, masks will no longer be required indoors or outdoors, thus eliminating the order issued by Governor Ned Lamont that started last April at the height of the pandemic.
“Indoor masking will still be required for the unvaccinated for a little while longer,” Lamont said during his daily COVID-19 briefing on May 13. “I think that’s the right thing to do.”
With the new regulations and an impending elimination of the standing indoor mask order, some students at Staples, when they become fully vaccinated, are wanting to take their masks off indoors.
“[As] of right now, I feel more comfortable with keeping my mask on indoors because I’m not yet fully vaccinated,” Abbey Baldwin ’23 said. “After [I do become fully vaccinated], I will probably become more comfortable with taking it off.”
Other fully vaccinated students, however, are more hesitant to go without a mask indoors due to the risks that go hand-in-hand with doing so, such as contracting or spreading COVID-19.
“I am fully vaccinated, but I still don’t feel completely safe not wearing a mask indoors because even while fully vaccinated, you could still get it and spread it to others,” Skylar Newman ’23 said.
The state guidance is the final call for local protocols, not the CDC. Currently, state guidance is advocating for schools and the students attending them, whether vaccinated or unvaccinated, to continue to wear masks and attempt to socially distance themselves, according to Lamont.
“My feeling is, between now and [the end of the school year] we’re not [going to] have enough of the kids vaccinated,” Lamont said last Thursday. “I would say they’re [going to] continue to wear the mask, you know, through the end of this school year, [but I’d] like to think by the fall we’ve got the vast majority of our kids vaccinated and it won’t be necessary.”
Most students agree with the Governor’s decision for Staples and the other schools in Westport to continue wearing masks.
“[I] stand with the science that says that we are safe to take off our masks, but without the government or anyone saying that we need to prove our vaccinations, it will be hard to differentiate the unvaccinated people from vaccinated people,” Nea Hochman ’23 said. “I personally feel to keep everyone safe, we should keep wearing masks to prevent any other outbreaks because wearing a mask really isn’t that hard.”