Why am I allowed to not wear a mask?


Nicholas Lolis '24

One student with a mask on, one with a mask off and no one says a thing.

The world is still in the middle of a pandemic. As a result, schools across the country are mandated to have their students wear masks, even those who are vaccinated. The only time masks are not necessary is when students are eating lunch or drinking water.

I decided to conduct a personal experiment. I walked into school one day and decided that I just wasn’t going to wear a mask. I wanted to see what would happen, and find out if I would be told to put on a mask.

I, of course, expected to be caught by the first teacher I saw. I was walking down a hallway to the cafeteria when I passed by a substitute teacher walking in the opposite direction. She saw me and made no mention of my maskless face.

I was surprised. But I decided that maybe I was just lucky with one teacher and headed into the cafeteria, where hundreds of students were sitting, talking, walking, eating, drinking, doing homework, playing games and having fun. There were also several adults and staffers presiding over the crowd.

I went in, and no one said anything. Not the students, not the teachers, not the cafeteria staff: no one. I went and talked with my friends, and no one said anything. I went and talked to teachers, and no one said anything. 

I see two options: We could either be very strict on the mandate and anyone caught without a mask will be told to put one on, or we could be lenient on the mask mandate.

— Nicholas Lolis '24

When the school day had officially begun, and the students had to go to their classes, I walked in front of the school policeman, the principal and several other staff and assistant principals. You’d think that someone would see me and tell me to put on my mask. But no, no one said anything.

I went through my day without a mask on. 

I was in disbelief. How is it that we have a mask mandate that is not enforced? I went through my entire day with that thought in mind and my mask off.

So, I decided to continue with the experiment.  I went through Tuesday with my mask off. I went through Wednesday with my mask off. I went through the entire week with my mask off. The same thought kept running through my mind: why isn’t the mask mandate enforced?

On Thursday and Friday, I took note of the amount of students that had their masks off. It was a lot. In every hallway, classroom, corridor and area in the school, there were at least four students without their masks on. 

This is prohibition-level enforcement. During Prohibition, all alcohol was outlawed, but virtually no one followed that law and drank alcohol anyway. Almost all cops either were bribed or also took part in alcohol drinking, and as a result, didn’t bust anyone for drinking alcohol. The same thing is happening here. There is a rule that is not being enforced by anyone.

For the entire week, I didn’t have my mask on. I went and talked and worked and laughed and yelled without my mask on, and no one said a thing.

Then why do we have this mask mandate? What should we do about the lack of masks being worn?

I see two options: We could either be very strict on the mandate and anyone caught without a mask will be told to put one on, or we could be lenient on the mask mandate.

What I mean by lenient is that we could have only unvaccinated people wear masks (although I think that would alienate those who are unvaccinated) or get rid of the mandate altogether. I vote for getting rid of it. I think it’s pointless to have a rule that’s unenforced.