Mask On…Mask Off?

Students and staff express their opinions on the mask mandate being lifted Monday.

On Monday, February 7, Governor Phil Murphy announced that the mask mandate will be lifted effective Monday, March 7.

With the mandate going away in a few days, The Lance is checking in on the NVOT community’s thoughts on masks going optional.

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  • Goran Saric, Sophomore: “I think that for the most part it’s good that we won’t be needing to wear masks for the rest of the school year. You can’t walk around school without seeing the majority of the kids not wearing a mask properly regardless. What’s the point of mandating a mask if we aren’t going to mandate it when kids have it below their nose. However I do understand for some people that it is a safety risk. I like the idea that kids that want to wear a mask are still allowed to do so, however I’m sure that those students will receive comments from their peers about why they shouldn’t be wearing it. I personally will not be wearing my mask.”

  • Nina Stonitsch, Senior: “It doesn’t really affect me either way. If I had to choose, I’d probably err on the side of caution and wear my mask for a little while after the mandate has been lifted.”

  • Jessica Jung, Junior: “I am personally super excited about the mandate being lifted. I feel like masks took away from the social aspect of school in some ways, and I’m ready to get back to the way things used to be.”

  • Abby Dennis, Sophomore: “I understand why masks have had to be worn, but I’m super excited about the mandate being lifted. As sophomores, we’ve had to wear masks our entire high school experience so far, so seeing everyone without them will be so refreshing.”

  • Gabrielle Ruggiero, Freshman: “I think losing the mask mandate will have its pros and cons. It will be really good for people to communicate and connect with facial expressions, but I also hope the COVID cases won’t spike again.”

  • Matthew Choi, Senior: “I don’t think it’s a bad thing but the thing that concerns me the most about it is the potential rise of COVID. With less people wearing masks it increases the chance of getting it. Other than that I kinda hate how uncomfortable wearing a mask is.”

  • Mrs. Jennifer Dee, Teacher: “I am so unbelievably excited to take this mask off, but I feel like I have to say that I totally respect anyone’s decision to leave their mask on. For me, I am vaccinated, I am boosted, so are my kids, and I don’t have any underlying medical conditions, and the rates of infection are way down in Bergen County, so I feel very safe. I’m also excited to see some new faces and by that I mean the faces that have been with me partially covered since September.”

  • Ms. Celia Gollub, Teacher: “I think I’m going to go into it with an open mind. I’m just going to follow what I feel at the time. If I am going to be taking mine off, if I’m going to leave it on, I don’t think I have a definite answer as of yet. I think I’m going to wait and see. If I’m not feeling well myself, to protect myself and others, I’m going to probably put it on. If I feel okay and it’s bothering me, I might take it off. I’m really undecided as of now. I think I’m just waiting to see how it all plays out a little bit. I wish I had a more definite answer, but I’m not sure. My concern is more for the kids that want to leave it on. I want to make sure that they feel protected and nobody picks on them or makes them feel bad for choosing to leave it on. I have two children of my own and one of them is excited to take it off. The other is going to leave it on no matter what since that’s just how she feels. So, I’m on the fence about it.”

  • Ms. Nicole Benasillo, secretary: “I think after two almost three years things are getting back to a new normal everyone has the option to wear/not wear a mask and use their choice to choose whatever makes them feel comfortable and i also think that when people have this feeling when they want to wear a mask or not–and they might have to wear one whether they have gotten covid and you come back for it–depending on the rules. Everyone should respect others in their feelings/choice of whether or not they choose to wear a mask.”

  • Olivia Ackerson, Senior: “I’m conflicted about the lifting of the mask mandate. For now, I’ll be wearing my mask, but I’m not sure about the future.”

  • Evan Brooks, Sophomore: “I feel like the mask mandate being lifted is a big relief. I can finally get a sense of normalcy in my high school experience.”

  • Ms. Reinfried, media specialist: “I’m excited for students & staff who feel comfortable & ready to unmask. I know it has been tough to be masked for so long. Personally, I will remain masked as my daughter is too young to be vaccinated so I think it’s important to stay masked to help keep her safe. I believe it’s crucial that we work to respect everyone’s choices and understand that they have their own reasons for making those decisions.”

  • Ashley Park, Sophomore: “I don’t really have any feelings about the mask mandate but I am still scared of catching COVID. But to be honest, I’m probably just gonna do what everyone else is gonna do because I know it’s gonna look weird if I’m the only person still wearing a mask.”

  • Takumi Tomono, Senior: “I’m happy to have the choice of taking off my mask. I can finally breathe.”

  • Samir Pamani, Senior: “I think it’s stupid that the school is taking it away, I think it’s going to cause another outbreak.”

  • Zachary Helfman, Junior: “The end of the mask mandate is going to stop a lot of people from complaining all day every day.”

  • Emily Clune, Senior: “I’m so excited for the mask mandate to be lifted. It has been long enough wearing masks and I think it’s a great step in the right direction.”

  • Ian Kim, Sophomore: “I don’t really have any opinions on it. I think it’s fine because COVID has gotten better. But, personally, I’m going to keep my mask in because I think there is still a risk. So I think keeping my mask on is the right move, but I don’t think it’s the wrong decision for the school to lift the mask mandate.”

  • Ryan Woo, Senior: “I don’t even know what some of my teachers look like, and some of my classmates I haven’t seen since sophomore year. It’s weird that we are going “back to normal” when wearing the mask is what actually feels normal now.”

  • Jillian Tan, Sophomore: “I feel that a lot of people aren’t going to wear them, but I guess that now that it’s a choice, people will decide that they’ve had enough of the masks. Honestly, I feel comfortable with a mask on. I think I’ve gotten used to it, and it helps keep everyone safe. I hope that everyone stays safe and not a lot of people get sick now. [Without the mask mandate] I think that there will be a slight rise in people at home, but since a lot of people are vaccinated, I hope it won’t change too much.”

  • Mia Setrakian, Senior: “I am very happy that we do not have to wear them anymore and that we now can make our own decisions about wearing them are not. It’s been long enough and things will finally feel completely normal.”

  • Alexis Richmond, Junior: “I don’t feel like it’s safe because winter break just ended and people are just coming back from being away and on vacation and I think that COVID is just going to keep spreading and we should wait a little bit longer.”

  • Mr. Paul Capuzzo, teacher: “I’ll probably teach without a mask, but I think maybe when I’m walking through crowded hallways, I’ll just keep a mask on just to be safe. I hope everybody stays healthy.”

  • Hanif Mouehla, Junior: “I think it is good to let people have the choice to wear a mask, but personally, the mask makes me feel safe especially in a school environment, where a lot of people are around you.”

  • Samantha Kosmark, Senior: “I am excited to finish out my Senior year without having to wear a mask after wearing it for the past few years. The learning dynamic without masks I think will be more interactive and interesting. I think it’s good that we’re going back to a sense of normalcy in our daily lives and I’m excited to finish my last year as a knight. ”

  • Ace Kim, senior: “Well I think we should definitely remain cautious about it but I am very excited to be able to walk around the halls without a mask again and return back to how things were, or, as normal as we can be. It’ll be fun to talk with friends and hang out in class without having to wear a mask. I think we do need to remain careful but I think it’s a good move.”

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