Rams Debate: To Mask or Not To Mask?
Fordham students share their thoughts on lifted mask mandates and how to proceed during this stage of the pandemic
March 23, 2022
Since Fordham lifted the mask mandate for all students, faculty and staff in early March, students have been wondering whether they should wear masks or not. Some believe that because virtually all members of the campus community are vaccinated, it should be permissible to remove masks in classrooms. Others cite the high case counts in New York City from the last few months, warning that they will rise again if we are not careful. Read these two articles to hear opposing perspectives on the mask mandate on campus.
Pro-Mask: Proceeding With Caution
Why do we still wear masks today? After all, most people we know have been vaccinated, so why be so cautious?
Unfortunately, there are still those people who refuse to be vaccinated and who could transmit COVID-19 to us in just a simple sneeze, cough or touch. COVID-19 is airborne, and despite vaccination efforts, it is still a dangerous virus that has no mercy on the most vulnerable members of our community.
Epidemiologists warn us that although this virus is in its third year, we should not let our guard down yet. It’s too early to lift all pandemic precautions, and we can’t be sure what the future holds. Don’t expect omicron to be the last variant we have to contend with.
The world has begun to think that COVID-19 is going away, but that is not the case.
Removing masks right now is like pulling the Band-Aid off before the wound is healed. Yes, I fully understand that we cannot go on for the rest of our lives wearing masks. After two years of masking, I am exhausted by it.
But I need something to help me make sure that I do not get sick. I am immunocompromised. I have hypothyroidism, heart issues and high blood pressure. Yes, I take daily meds, and I do feel healthy, thank God. But feeling healthy and remaining healthy is the key here. At 64 years old (65 next month), I am not willing to risk my health.
I know that it is not fun to wear these things on our faces. I want to go out with my makeup on — my red, rosy lipstick — and to feel sexy. Heck, I may be in my 60s, but yes, I think that when I am all dressed up in my pretty dresses and heels that I do feel and look good. Putting on a mask can put a damper on dressing up, but it doesn’t have to take away from a special occasion.
Take my son’s Nov. 5 wedding, for example. Some of my son and daughter-in-law’s guests took them off for the evening, and we respected that. Yet I did wear mine — gown, hair and all — and I still had a great time.
We are seeing a wave of milder infections. Other countries are dialing back restrictions and not pushing the point of mask mandates, and social distancing. The world has begun to think that COVID-19 is going away, but that is not the case.
This is where tearing that Band-Aid off too soon comes in. The crisis is still here; just because things have quieted down does not make it safe to go out without a mask.
Are we settling for complacency that will come back to hurt us in the end?
Ever take a bandage off too soon? You think by the new scab it’s all healed, and then a few days later, it hurts like hell. Well, this is where we are heading if we become too complacent.
I do want to breathe air freely and feel great in a killer outfit without a mask. I want my face to not feel dry and my eyes not to itch due to the mask and my own breath drying my face out. Then again, that is why I carry lotion and lip balm with me.
I ask: Are we settling for complacency that will come back to hurt us in the end? I fear we may be, but according to New York state and Fordham’s recent decisions to lift mask mandates, it’s up to you to answer that.
Anti-Mask: An Open-Faced Prerogative
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, masks offer protection against COVID-19. They prevent particles from entering the respiratory tract. They protect people from contracting COVID-19, suitable for the immunocompromised or those who wish to safeguard themselves against the virus.
But they also offer the unparalleled opportunity for self-proclaimed “mask police” (healthy, nosy adults who demand one wear a mask despite a distance of more than 6 feet) to enforce a “recommended” measure against healthy, fully vaccinated adults who are not afraid of the virus.
One must understand that some people have just accepted the inevitable realization that COVID-19 is something that most people will catch and recover from. They are not afraid of catching the virus and do not want the virus to be an inconvenience that prevents them from enjoying normal life.
We are certainly not in a severely critical moment of the pandemic right now.
Masks are an inconvenient accessory for these people. They prevent one from breathing freely, unobstructed by a mask. While they may prevent virus particles from entering the nose, they can also make it feel harder to breathe.
Although scientists say that oxygen levels are not actually depleted when wearing a mask, some researchers have begun to acknowledge that the discomfort of wearing a mask and the anxiety it causes for some are also relevant concerns.
Since Fordham has required all students and faculty who can to get vaccines and booster shots and most students are young, healthy individuals, I do not think that masking is necessary right now.
In addition, cases in New York City are decreasing after the latest omicron surge, and while the risk is still there and we may continue to face new variants in the future, we are certainly not in a severely critical moment of the pandemic right now.
On a personal note, I’m naturally claustrophobic, and wearing a mask just fuels my claustrophobia. I hyperventilate while wearing a mask, especially an N95, which only serves to make me nauseous.
Wearing a mask can also cause acne and other skin issues. Acne can stop me from booking modeling jobs. It is a major inconvenience to me and is getting in the way of a fruitful career path.
I am against the mandatory imposition of wearing a mask.
While I admit that those who wish to protect themselves from the virus are welcome to wear their masks, I am against the mandatory imposition of wearing a mask.
The people who are not imperiled by the virus and do not wish to wear a mask should have the right to exercise this decision for themselves. They should not be shamed for making this decision by the “mask police.”
If people wish to protect themselves from COVID-19, they can very well wear their own masks instead of enforcing a dictum that infringes on others’ boundaries.