Out of hiding


Photo by Gillian Madden

Perspectives on masking vary among the FVHS student body. The lifting of the WCPSS mask mandate on March 7 has left students to decide their own mask policy at school. (Left to right: Deanna Wichmann, Anna-Grace Medlin)

Imagine you are a high school student. You have been living the past year and a half in isolation and then are told that you were to go back to school, but there’s a kicker: your face will be covered up, and you will hardly recognize the people whom you were once lucky enough to call friends. Well, for  students that has been the norm for the past three years.

Before returning to school on Tuesday, February 21, after a teacher workday on Friday and President’s Day on Monday, news began to spread about the mask mandate being lifted and made optional as of March 7. 

Most students at Fuquay-Varina High School were overwhelmingly excited about losing the masks and being able to breathe again, but there have been some good points made about the opposite being true. This includes ideas such as the fact that as teenagers, they already have lots of self-doubt and anxiety and taking away something that has been a constant for them, for some, the majority of their high school career would make things that much worse.

“The mask mandate being lifted is something that excites a lot of people,” said Josue Razon-Elizondo, junior at FVHS. “However, some are weary because the mask gave them a lot of comfort with their face being hidden. Due to self-doubts or merely the comfort of not needing to put on makeup cause your face is hidden. The fact that it is optional is nice to that demographic. Options are always better. Another plus about this decision is it removes the pressure for teachers from making sure the students follow the mandate. No longer do they need to remind those kids to keep their masks back up because it’s optional. Options are nice.”

There have also been health concerns regarding the lifting of the mandate and more people most likely choosing to opt out of wearing masks. In reality, if you give high school students the option of keeping themselves and others safe or having their freedom back, they will almost always choose the latter.

“Yes, many people want the pandemic to be over but just because it’s become normalized doesn’t mean it’s not as rampant or destructive as before,” said FVHS junior Julia Mikaelian. “I think that if people don’t want to wear masks then there should be proof that they’ve been fully vaccinated, or boosted if applicable.” 

Although there may have been excitement about the lifting of the mask mandate, it did not come as a surprise to many. “I knew that sooner or later the mask mandate would be lifted,” said junior Katrina Russinovich. “Covid will soon be like the virus, and it has already mutated, meaning, it’s not going anywhere. People need to learn how to live with it.”