Unmasking Stuyvesant

A look into students’ opinions on the ease of the mask mandate.

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By Nelli Rojas-Cessa

Note: most of these interviews were done before the most recent COVID announcement.

Over the past several months, COVID-19 vaccinations have become accessible to virtually everyone in New York City. The Pfizer vaccine gained approval to be administered to people ages 12 to 15 years old in early May. With these developments come the easing of mask mandates across the city, including the lifting of mask requirements for all fully vaccinated individuals.

Vaccinations have given many students a sense of protection when it comes to contracting the coronavirus, causing them to ditch the mask. Senior Ahmed Shekhani, who is fully vaccinated, doesn’t feel the need to wear a mask anymore. “I have not been wearing masks outdoors as I am fully vaccinated, and there is no reason for me to,” he said. “When you are vaccinated, the chance of you getting the virus is essentially zero, so there is no reason to wear a mask.”

Others, however, are still relying on masks as a preventative measure despite being vaccinated. Junior Naya Mukul still wears her mask when around others, but goes maskless when outside alone, such as when she is walking her dog. “People should continue to wear masks when in more crowded areas or inside because there’s still a risk of COVID variants from other countries,” she said.

Sophomore Rafatune Myma is also hesitant to go completely maskless, even after receiving both doses of the vaccine. “It’s better to be safe than sorry,” she stated. “There’s still a possibility of contracting COVID-19, and if our immune system is weak, the vaccine wouldn’t be much of a help, which is why I’m still wearing a mask.”

Junior Sajia Athai has not gotten either of the two COVID-19 vaccination doses, but believes that people who are vaccinated should not be so quick to follow the lift of the mask mandate. “People should continue to wear a mask, even if they are vaccinated,” she expressed. “It’s better to be extremely safe and cautious than to have a higher possibility of contracting the disease.”

Senior Tiffany Wu is concerned that unvaccinated Americans may abuse the guidelines. “With fewer people wearing masks, I imagine many of those who aren’t vaccinated would take advantage of this,” she said. Despite this concern, she still feels safe at her job, where she encounters many not wearing their masks. “I know the risk of catching corona exists, but I trust my mask and my vaccine,” Wu explained.

In mid-June, New York lifted most COVID-19 restrictions with 70 percent of all adults having been vaccinated with at least one dose. Restaurants are no longer forced to space tables six feet apart, movie theaters are allowed to run their auditoriums at full capacity, and New York has virtually returned to normal. Regardless of whether or not students will take the steps toward a maskless world, one thing is clear: life is slowly returning to normal. “A majority of the people that I see outside haven’t been wearing masks,” Athai stated. “It’s almost as if we’re returning to a pre-coronavirus world.”