Lifted mask mandates return Staples to a pre-pandemic lifestyle

Mask mandate lifted in Staples High School, giving students the choice of wearing a mask. Staples students Peter Loranger ’24 (left) and Flora Williams ’24 (right) are respectful of each other’s choice to wear or not wear a mask.

Photos by Paige Tighe ’24

Mask mandate lifted in Staples High School, giving students the choice of wearing a mask. Staples students Peter Loranger ’24 (left) and Flora Williams ’24 (right) are respectful of each other’s choice to wear or not wear a mask.

After two unusual years of mandates and restrictions, Staples high school lifted its mask mandate on Feb. 28, giving students the right to choose if they want to wear a mask. Personally, I made the choice to not wear my mask in school. But, after two years of wearing a mask in school, the return to normalcy has differed from my expectations. 

Last year, I was a freshman at Staples. Masks were mandatory, plastic was up at every table, teachers took students on mask breaks and each hallway had specific directions in which the students could walk in. Not to mention the fact that I was only in-school two to three days a week.

There were many restrictions enforced at Staples which set the tone for high school being strict. Sports events weren’t allowed to have spectators, students were only allowed to sit in the library or the cafeteria during their free periods. Worst of all, there was no sandwich deli available to students.

My first day back at school with the mandate lifted was the Monday after February break. My mom had asked my sister and I if we planned to wear our masks the Sunday night prior to the start of school. I told that I really did not know what I wanted to do. 

There was a part of me that longed for life in school to be normal again, to see faces and smiles. However, there was another part of me that wanted to be respectful and conscious of the fact that we are still in a pandemic and that there are families within Staples that are not vaccinated or have pre-existing health conditions. Ultimately, I decided to walk into school without a mask but keep one in my backpack. 

Walking through the lobby doors without a mask was strange. I did not think it was weird seeing other student’s faces, however, I became hyper aware of the fact that my face was bare. 

I did not think it was weird seeing other student’s faces, however, I became hyper aware of the fact that my face was bare. ”

— Paige Tighe ’24

Also, it was hard to break out of the habit of pulling up my mask. There were multiple occasions during that first week without a mask that I would be talking with friends but attempt to pull up my mask. 

Now, it has been almost a month without wearing a mask in school, I do not even notice the fact that I am not wearing one. Since most of the Staples population, from what I have noticed, does not wear a mask in school, students have started missing more school due to illness. Luckily, it is just a common cold and not COVID-19, as this would likely result in the mask mandate being reinstated. 

Overall, the state that Staples is currently in is fragile. As I have learned since March 2020, everything can change in an instant. Although I enjoy the sense of normalcy I feel right now, I can not ignore the fact that we are still in a global pandemic. A mask mandate can very well be reinstated any day and fellow Staples students need to recognize this.