STAFF EDITORIAL: Past the mask


It’s no question that masks are a touchy subject. There are millions of different perspectives covering every square inch, including Monarch High School.
When Boulder County Public Health dropped the mask mandate on February 18, I was surprised. Like many others, I was excited, but also incredibly nervous.
My family tends to pay attention to the research surrounding Covid. So from the beginning, Covid was a serious issue in my eyes, and not something to be taken lightly.
When Monarch transitioned to online classes two years ago, I stayed at home and tried to limit leaving the house. When I did leave, I made sure to wear a mask wherever I went.
However, I believe many people’s perspectives, including my own, have been altered throughout the pandemic. In March of 2020, I was paranoid, and I immediately believed the rumors around me. The one ringing loudest in my ears was that my body wouldn’t be strong enough to fight Covid if I caught it.
When Monarch went back in person part time, I made the tough decision to stay home. Covid was still a major source of anxiety for me.
Then, vaccines were introduced.
I’ve talked to many people about the vaccine, and I’ve received many contrasting perspectives. I’ve heard everything, including “If you get the vaccine the government will track you,” and, “There’s not enough research yet to prove it’s safe.” Also, “If you get vaccinated you will be safe from getting Covid.”
I decided to tune in, and listen to my own feelings. I felt that I should lean into the part of me that trusts researchers who have devoted their lives to studying Covid, and doctors who have more experience than I do. So, I got vaccinated. Finally, after a long time, I felt safe.
Returning to Monarch for the 2021-2022 school year was strange. Instead of seeing the smiling faces I remembered from freshman year, now as a junior, I couldn’t see beneath others’ eyes. I couldn’t understand how people felt. I couldn’t tell when people were happy or sad.
For six months, I went to school without seeing anyone’s face. But then, in January of 2022, I got Covid. It wasn’t that bad for me. The worst came with a night or two of a high fever and an extremely sore throat, but that was it.
For others, it’s not the same. Others lost sense of taste or smell. Others had a raging cough and could hardly breathe. And worst of all, others have been rushed to the hospital and weren’t strong enough to fight it. I’m lucky, but others aren’t so much.
When the Boulder mask mandate expired at 5 P.M. Friday, February 18, I was initially shocked and surprised. Covid was still raging and people were still getting sick.
The decision on whether to wear a mask to school was difficult. I had grown so accustomed to no one seeing my face. Wearing one now felt safe. It felt comfortable. And I noticed when taking it off, I became more insecure than I ever used to.
After days of contemplating what to do, I made the decision not to wear a mask. In hindsight, peer pressure played a role in my choice, but I was also tired of having fabric attached to my face for hours on end.
But, ultimately, I felt safe enough not to wear a mask.
I feel safe because I am vaccinated.
Sure, it’s your choice, but to me, medicine is a no brainer. I’ve been given no reason to mistrust it. And until I do, I choose to trust science. I respect others who choose to wear masks, and if they would like me to wear a mask around them, I will. I also respect others who choose not to wear masks or get vaccinated.
This pandemic has shown me that as human beings, we have many different perspectives, and that’s what makes us so interesting.