Wearing a Mask is Sexy

Are social norms in the way of students upholding the safety guidelines?


Recently, I was on Zoom with a teacher who is working remotely this year. She admitted, somewhat self consciously, that she was still “a little bit nervous about the virus.” My question is why aren’t we all? 

In the first few months of the pandemic, I was afraid all the time. I remember helping my mom wipe down all our groceries with bleach wipes and flinching when people walked anywhere near me on the street. During those months we had to find alternate ways to create community. 

The fact that I don’t have to organize a Zoom to see my friends anymore is beyond exciting. Little things like passing each other in the hallways (even if the hallway is just a grassy area between tents) or whispering to a friend during class (teachers, you didn’t see this) are things I honestly thought I would never get to do again at Poly. 

In that sense, Poly has done us a great service by making school possible this fall. Being outside is infinitely safer for all of us. All day, I have conversations about how wet my shoes got in the morning, how uncomfortable my chair is, the lack of Caesar dressing, and so on. I complain, but I’m happy to simply have the chance to complain to other human beings. However, there is something missing from our dialogue. We have left strict social distancing and proper mask use out of our conversations. 

In the same way my teacher shouldn’t feel embarrassed to say she is still nervous about the pandemic, you shouldn’t feel bad asking someone to pull their mask over their nose or take a few steps away from you. The Poly students and administrators have both fallen into a trap. As students, we have allowed the norm to be unsafe behavior. Dapping your friend up between classes should not be common practice. The administration failed to create the environment and rules to prevent these norms before they even formed. While neither group is fully to blame for this issue, it is everyone’s job to fix it. 

This is a call to the student body and the Poly community. We must practice safer distancing while we are in school. I’m not just asking you to do this for yourself. I’m asking you to do it for your teachers, for your family, and for all our families. Poly’s reopening has increased our human contact enough. Every unnecessary contact we have with each other endangers the entire community a little more. 

Let’s make this a part of our discussions every day. Once you finish complaining about your chair breaking or your caesar salad with ranch dressing, let’s talk about keeping each other safe: don’t touch each other, keep your masks on, and be responsible outside of school— the bar is basically on the floor. Let’s do this together for the sake of our faculty, our families, and our collective sanity in the months to come. 

This is my fifteenth year attending Poly Prep. Over the course of the last decade and a half, I never felt an urge to write an article for this newspaper. Don’t get me wrong, I love reading it, answering questions for Poly’s journalists, and listening to my friends explaining their articles. However, I have just found other ways of being a part of the Poly community. But for the first time, I feel like I need to take a moment to address the entire community.