Masks Creating Discomfort for Many Students


Photo courtesy of Amanda Ross

Amanda Ross, Reporter

Since the pandemic started almost two years ago, people around the world have been told to wear a face mask in order to protect themselves and others from Covid-19. Within Novato High School, the mask mandate has turned out to be a fairly controversial topic among students and staff.

The current mask mandate at NHS, guided by the California Department of Public Health, requires all staff and students, vaccinated or not, to wear a mask both inside and outside while on campus. 

Sara Delgado, a Novato High freshman, weighed in with her opinion about masks on campus.

“I don’t mind wearing them and I would rather wear them than get sick. Sometimes it gets annoying, but I’ll wear one,” Delgado said.

Jakob Peterson, a junior at Novato, also shared his thoughts.

“I personally do not like masks at all. I find it interesting that there are so many places where people do not wear masks like college football games are filled with people without masks. But, I understand how quickly something could spread around school if we had no masks, so I think they are necessary,” Peterson said. 

Mark Brewer, Principal at Novato High, discussed the matter. 

“I think everybody should be required to wear them right now because of the Delta variant that’s roaming around and all of us can either carry it or be infected by it even if we’re vaccinated,” Brewer said. “But, until we get more people vaccinated and these variants start to disappear, the safest thing we can do is wear masks even though it might not be that comfortable or it’s kind of a hassle. It protects all of us.”

A student who wished to remain anonymous described the impact the current mask situation has on them.

“I have severe anxiety to the point where if I don’t see people wearing their masks, I’ll kind of freak out. I mean, I have family members who work in the hospital and they come home absolutely devastated to see all these new cases,” the student said. “Continuously not wearing your mask is disrespecting people who need people to wear their masks or they have certain conditions and they’ve been forced to go back to school, uncomfortable with these situations. It gets less about rules, and being a rebel or trying to be cool or whatever, and it’s more like an endangerment to society and public safety.”

Owen Busby, a Novato High junior, expressed opposing thoughts.

“I personally don’t like masks. I am double-vaccinated so there’s no reason for me to wear one,” Busby said. “They are very uncomfortable to wear and it makes it hard to breathe.”

Another anonymous Novato High student had a similar opinion about the usefulness of masks. 

“I very much dislike wearing masks, I think they are useless. They get my face very hot in class and whenever I pull it down just for a second, the teachers yell at me. The masks are proven to not help; they just cause acne and overheating,” the student said. “Even with masks and people being vaccinated, we still have people getting Covid through the mask.”

Senior Soph Vega also discussed the way staff is handling the mask mandate.

“For the most part, they’re doing a pretty good job. I mean, I think most staff members are doing a pretty good job, but I think some other staff members could say something when they see someone not wearing it correctly,” Vega said. 

Vega stated that if they were to be placed in a class with a teacher who did not wear a mask, they would drop the class. 

Masks have certainly created differences and challenges in the classroom. The combination of hot California weather and masks can cause discomfort and make it difficult for students to concentrate. 

Kang Lee, professor of applied psychology and human development at the University of Toronto, spoke to CVTNews about the impact masks have on kids in learning environments. 

We use our face, particularly the majority of facial musculature, to actually convey emotions,” Lee said. “We do a lot of things to convey emotions including how our muscles move and through our cheeks as well as our lips. But now you have them covered up with the mask.”

Lip reading and seeing facial expressions play a major role in our communication with others. Face masks strip us of a significant part of our ability to understand those around us; especially in class when we are listening to our teachers or working in groups. 

Walking around campus, you’ll find people with their masks fully up, under the nose, under the chin, or even completely off. It’s interesting to look into different people’s thoughts and examine how they’ve adjusted to this new normal. 

*Personally, I’ve found myself lowering my mask for fresher air while in a hot, stuffy classroom and having a hard time focusing. Another key difference with masks is a lack of communication skill.