Illustration: Kathryn Hood

If you had told someone in 2019 that we would soon have to shield half of our faces from the world to protect ourselves from a pandemic, that person would have laughed it off. If you had explained to them that instead of complimenting people on their new shirt or decorated senior backpack, we would be asking where the best place to purchase a fun mask is, not only would they have been confused, they may have become concerned. Today, this abnormal reality has become the norm in our society, as masks are now an everyday essential.

A huge variety of masks are now available for purchase, ranging from cloth masks to surgical masks and even plastic face shields. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, N95 masks are one of the most protective face masks. They are fitted and prevent any form of respiration from reaching another person. While these masks are well-suited for coronavirus protection, they are in short supply and utilized primarily by health care workers.

Cloth masks are the most common type of masks worn by Pace students, as they come in a variety of colors and patterns. These masks properly conceal students’ noses and mouths and are relatively comfortable to wear throughout the day. To ensure that masks are protecting not only themselves but the people around them, students can engage in what some call “the candle test.” If students can blow out a candle while wearing their mask, this means that too much air is traveling through the mask, carrying germs, and potentially the coronavirus, with it. 

Gaiters have also gained popularity, but are not as protective as most may think. Gaiters are similar to bandanas, as they are long pieces of cloth that rest around peoples’ necks and can be pulled up over their nose. While this may seem beneficial and serve its purpose, according to The Washington Post, this type of athletic gear should not be used as protection against the coronavirus because gaiters are often made from thinner material, allowing smaller sized particles to get through, thereby making COVID-19 easier to contract.

Pace students have mostly complied with the mask policies and are making the best of the current situation. Students and faculty wear patterned and tie-dye masks to school on a day-to-day basis, turning masks from a burden into fashion. “I ordered a pack of colored masks and wear a blue one every day to school,” said junior Catherine Crawford. “I also have a few tie-dye ones and they are all very comfortable to wear during the school day.”

Students are required to wear their masks throughout the day, only removing them for lunch and when they are outside, socially distanced from one another. “It’s nice to be able to take my mask off outside,” said senior Anthony Salazar. “Although it’s only a few minutes each day, it makes a huge difference.”


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