Smile! Face masks no longer mandated

Olivia Condell, Editor in Chief

The Commack School District officially lifted its mask mandate after Governor Kathy Hochul announced New York public schools were no longer required to enforce students wear them, effective March 2. 

This change came after the Centers for Disease Control Prevention (CDC) also updated its mask guidelines stating that students attending a low or medium community level public school do not have to wear masks indoors. However, the CDC remains that those in high risk areas maintain their mask usage. 

“Community levels can be low, medium, or high and are determined by looking at hospital beds being used, hospital admissions, and the total number of new COVID-19 cases in an area […] Suffolk County has a low community level,” said Interim Superintendent David Flatley, in a statement on the district’s website. 

After almost two years of consistent mask wearing in school, putting one on was ingrained into people’s daily routines. To some students, the updated policy came as a surprise. 

“I personally was not expecting this to happen, just because we have been wearing [masks] for so long. Even with all of the policy changes [in New York State and the CDC], I still assumed that we would have to wear masks up until graduation,” said senior Robin H.  

Students began to adjust to the new atmosphere of the high school, where they were maskless in the halls, classrooms, and buses.

“It felt so strange walking into the building with no mask on. It seemed like everything was back to normal,” said senior Gina K.

While there is no longer a mask mandate, many students prefer to continue wearing them as a safety precaution. 

“I personally still like to wear [my mask]. I do think that I have become more lenient with it, though. I take it down when I am comfortable, and will put it above my nose if I want to,” said Robin H. 

Despite some uncertainty regarding the future of COVID-19 policies in schools, some are certain that the mask lift will last. 

“I don’t think [the end to the mask mandate] will be revoked. Not wearing masks might have the chance to increase transmission rates in schools, but I still don’t think it will be enough for people to wear masks again, especially if they are vaccinated,” said Gina K. 

There are also benefits to experiencing the social and communicative aspects of a maskless school.

“I had never really known what some of my teachers looked like. It was funny seeing everyone’s faces […] There won’t be much of a difference in my learning because masks did not get in the way of it, but talking with my friends in the cafeteria is easier now,” said Gina K.

Whether students chose to wear their mask or not, Robin H. notices respect is needed in this transition. 

“I’m glad that everyone is really respectful of each other [in school]. Anyone who still chooses to wear a mask hasn’t been singled out, from what I’ve seen, and the same goes the other way around,” said Robin H. 

With the remainder of the school year under new guidelines, it is hopeful that the 2022-2023 cycle could be shaping up to be maskless come September. It is a sign that the Commack community is slowly shifting into a new normalcy. 🔳