Sebi Hume, '25
Lunch is my favorite part of the school day. I understand that for a teenager, this is not an unpopular opinion. There are many reasons why lunch is such a treasured time for high schoolers. Obviously, it’s a break from the chaos of learning that follows you throughout the four-class morning, and there’s food (who doesn’t love food?).
But the other thing that sets lunch apart from the rest of the day is the faces we get to see. The mouths, the noses, the bits and pieces of expressions that come together to portray emotion…everything about human expression that a mask hides. Especially during the winter months, lunch was the only time that I could see all of my classmates unmasked. If it weren’t for lunch, I probably wouldn’t know what half of the upper schoolers looked like.
I think we can all agree that seeing faces makes a big difference. Seeing someone’s full face increases the chance that you’ll approach them, start a conversation, and build a connection with them. At lunch, I can see how my classmates are reacting to what someone says, how they light up when talking about something interesting to them, and how they tense up when the waiters are being announced. All of these details help me to understand my classmates. I get to know them when their masks are down, and love is spread when understanding is reached.
See, I’m not against safety. I don’t want there to be a massive outbreak, sending us all home again, because that would disrupt school-wide love even more than masks do. However, especially as we enter the spring months, I think the school should consider lifting the mask requirements. If we all remove our masks at lunch, and are still returning from testing with almost zero positive cases, then are they really worth it?
If the thirty minutes we spend fully exposed to each other at lunch isn’t causing a massive outbreak, isn’t it safe to assume that the rest of the day likely won’t cause an outbreak either? I think class time is even more compatible with maskless school, since we aren’t so close to each other, and we aren’t eating or drinking anything. Plus, how many times have you not been able to understand someone through their mask? Classroom efficiency and confidence would increase without the barriers over our faces.
In addition, it goes without saying that masks cause a lot of stress in our lives. Did you remember to bring one to school? Does it meet the requirements? Is it over your nose? And as the weather gets warmer, the discomfort of wearing a mask will only increase. As discomfort and stress increase, the love being shared in our community will drop significantly. It’s hard to be positive and spread good vibes when you have to worry about covering up half of your face.
Just picture a school life without masks. It’s hard, isn’t it? I bet you don’t even know what everyone in your school looks like underneath the fabric coverings. Seeing everyone’s faces allows us to build bridges between each other. The facial recognition brings back memories of the laughs we’ve shared together and the moments of sorrow we’ve helped each other through. A world without masks decreases stress, simplifies communication, and gives students the opportunity to get to know their classmates. All of those benefits increase positive interactions between students, and we spread more love in our school community as a result. So, let’s be safe, but also consider how masks have affected the social health of our community, and whether they still have a place in our school.