Wear it right, save a life

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Kaelyn Savard

While it is entirely your choice of how you wish to dress-up or dress-down with this new accessory, its ultimate rule is that it is a necessity in the times of COVID-19 in order to save lives.

Olivia Zoll and Bella Meza

Upon leaving your house, you pat your pockets or open up your purse one last time to check for the necessities…car keys, phone, wallet. Oh, and of course, mask, hand sanitizer, gloves and a hazmat suit. While most public settings mandate face coverings, it doesn’t need to be a burden. In fact, it can be taken as an opportunity for a fashion statement; you determine whether you want to bedazzle your face with a flashy covering or instead opt for a subtle, non-distracting mask. COVID-19 has killed over 208,000 people in the United States alone as of October 2, 2020, and wearing a mask has been one of the most widely implemented solutions. Mask wearing has created a hot debate; below, science teachers and students at Foothill Tech share their experiences with COVID-19 and masks.

The face mask has become imperative in our everyday lives. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or CDC advises everyone over two years of age to wear a mask in all public indoor settings. Additionally, a mask is essential when six feet of distance cannot be maintained in an outdoor setting. 

Since masks are our new normal, and don’t seem to be going away anytime soon, we can take advantage of the fact that this new article of clothing can be more than just a necessary measure. The type and style of mask you wear says a lot about you. For biology teacher Ryan Duston, a solid black mask is preferred in order to avoid distraction. A level of creativity can be instilled in the fabric you choose to wear. For example, Mika Anderson prefers homemade cloth masks. These homemade masks are usually made of cotton and have two or more layers of fabric for protection. Although they come in a variety of shapes and sizes, it’s key to wear a mask that fits correctly. Elizabeth Newman ‘23 said, “I have such a small face that masks don’t normally fit.” A mask with adjustable straps can ease this qualm.

The face mask is a necessary measure to contain the spread of disease, but can also make a fashion statement. (Olivia Zoll)

Duston said that it’s hard to argue with the data of how important it is to wear a mask. He added that if more mask mandates were put in place, it would likely cause the case numbers of COVID-19 to continue to decline. Emily Hunt mentioned that “we can wear a mask, we can work together,” and that this pandemic is the perfect time for humans to not only protect themselves but each other. Our safety and the safety of those around us not only relies on proper mask-wearing but also the maintenance of six feet social distancing. Anderson read in a scientific journal written by Dr. Gandhi that the amount of space between an infected person and an uninfected person determines how sick the uninfected person will become. 

Frances English ‘24 says that “obviously it sucks that we have to wear masks, but I think that it is extremely necessary for everyone to wear them in public places if we want things to normalize.” Likewise, Marina Wolowicz ‘22 agrees that it was “annoying at first” but “now I don’t mind it at all and have no trouble breathing or speaking in it and can’t imagine going anywhere without it.” 

 “I wear a mask to protect others. That’s what they’re there for…it’s kind of like treating others the way you want to be treated” said Hunter LeFebvre ‘21.

People known as “half-maskers” wear their masks below their noses. Anderson pointed out that “people forget that the nose and the mouth are connected in your respiratory and oral cavity.” Therefore, it isn’t nearly as effective if it is not worn over the nose and mouth. Wearing a mask can be beneficial not just for yourself or strangers around you, but also your family who lives with you, especially if they’re older or have underlying health concerns.

Dan Baker compared mask wearing to driving at the speed limit: “You drive the speed limit basically to protect others as much as yourself.” John Weldele also stated that those who choose not to wear masks may be more concerned about their “personal freedoms over their responsibilities to society.”

Ventura County Star recently reported that Ventura County may shift from the purple tier into the red tier, which would allow for more reopenings. In the meantime, Anderson said that distance learning requires patience, grace and understanding.

Although masks are mandatory, that doesn’t mean they can’t be fun. Students and teachers have reported sightings of masks with pictures of mouths, a hazmat mask and even underwear as a makeshift face covering. Some available masks involve flashy colors or are bedazzled with sequins. Towards the beginning of the pandemic, even respirators and oxygen tanks could be seen at the grocery stores! 

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Hunt and Baker’s chemistry classes performed an experiment to test the efficiency of a variety of masks. The goal was to see how much distance their breath could travel when wearing a variety of masks that had different levels of thickness. They blew out candles to test this theory. Baker said that “the bandana was the least effective, and the N-95 was the most protective.”

Many students right now are truly missing their peers. Newman ‘23 expressed that she really wants to go back to school soon, hopefully with a vaccine, so that she can see her friends who she hasn’t been able to see since the beginning of the pandemic because they have asthma. When school is back in session in person, there may be an increased level of shyness. 

Masks are more than just another accessory used to express ourselves, they’re vital to our new normal as we navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. When bringing one with you before you leave the house, you’re not just potentially sparing yourself from infection, but you could actually be saving another person’s life.

What do you think?