By ADELINE LOYAL – While many things have changed since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, some changes have been significantly more apparent in the everyday lives of students. One of these many changes is the mask mandate. Students at IHS are required to wear a mask to school. But are some masks more effective than others?
While often seen around school, “wrap around” and bandana masks have been shown in recent studies to be less effective in stopping the spread of the virus. In fact, the thin, stretchy fabrics of these masks break up COVID-19 particles and make them easier to transmit.
So, what masks are effective? N95 masks are the most effective, but are mostly being saved for healthcare workers. Disposable surgical masks are quite effective in stopping the spread, and are also quite common around school. Reusable ply cloth masks are similarly effective.
So why do people wear wrap around masks if other types of masks are equally as available and more effective? While there is no definite answer, a likely one is the ease of breathing. Surgical or ply cloth masks do not restrict the breathing of the wearer, but can feel somewhat restrictive to those who are not used to the feeling of wearing them. The thin, ineffective fabric of the wrap around mask does not give that same feeling, at the risk of spreading the virus.
Sophomore Alexa Cikowski says, “I use a cloth mask because it is the most comfortable but also gives a lot of coverage, so I’m staying safe.”
Still, some students are unbothered by mask wearing. According to junior Autumn Smith, “Wearing a mask really doesn’t bother me. I almost forget I’m wearing one. It’s really just part of my clothing now.”
Students around IHS can be seen taking their masks off in the halls between classes, in class, or on “mask breaks” in the halls during class. While they are usually called out by teachers, this doesn’t seem to deter them. But why not just wear the masks? Every student has the option to switch to school online.
Until the COVID-19 virus is no longer a threat to public health, students will be required to wear a mask in school. But the effectiveness of the masks worn and the care with which students wear them may be the key factor in getting IHS back to normal.
[Photo by Adeline Loyal]
Photo Caption: “Students sit masked and socially distanced during a math test.”
Adeline is a junior and first-year reporter for the High Arrow. She enjoys theater and is a drama club officer. She is excited to write articles and be a part of the staff.