Are Students Wearing Mask and Social Distancing When Socializing?

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While the pandemic steadily continues, student views of precautionary measures regarding the Covid-19 Virus have potentially altered. 

    During the month of April, 3 months after the first announced case of Covid-19 in the United States in January, the CDC officially recommended the use of masks in order to prevent the spread of the virus (Vox News). By the month of July, masks were made mandatory to wear in public in multiple states throughout the US (CNet). 

    Throughout the first few months of quarantine, feelings of unease and fear spread, as the US still had limited information regarding the virus. 

    “In the beginning I was really scared. I would check the cases [and] I wouldn’t go outside…Now, it’s a little more relaxed,” senior Afua Pinamang-Boampong said. “I’ll go to the grocery store with my mom, I’ll hang out with friends as long as I have the right gear on and social distance; I’m not that worried.”   

    Currently, regulations regarding precautionary measures have been more lenient, with the use of masks simply recommended by the CDC when in public (CDC). While more lenient, regulations are still implemented in order to insure safety, causing students to think of more creative ways to stay connected.

    “I’ve facetimed a thousand times more than I ever have in my entire life,” Pinamang-Boampong said. “I’ve gone on picnics with friends, and we sit on different blankets. I’ve become more innovative in the way I hang out with people. So finding things we can do distanced and being safe.”

    With quarantine continuing to be the safest precautionary measure, the lack of traditional socializing may be linked to students’ deteriorating mental health, as connections could be severed between friends.

    “I would think most students are like most of the population.  They are in favor of masks and social distancing until it becomes inconvenient for them,” health teacher Mr. Skipper said. “As students feel more isolated, I feel they are more likely to break the protocols.  I know it has been a struggle in my own house to balance being socially responsible and the mental health of my kids.  I would assume this is a struggle among lots of families.”

    A survey taken on the Jesuit News website displayed that 3 out of 5 students sometimes wear masks outside, while 2 out of 5 students always wear masks outside (jesuitnews.com). 

    “I worry not just about students, but everyone’s view about the protocols,” Skipper said. “The longer this goes on, the less fear we seem to have. With less fear, people will be less likely to follow the protocol.”

The frequency of precautionary measures taken by students varies, as some students have begun to hang out with small, close-knit groups of select friends outside of their family.

    “It’s changed because my parents [now] allow me to have ‘bubbles’ with friends,” junior Kurt Woodruff said. “So I have a selected group of no more than 10 people that I hang out with so we are still constricted, so it’s kind of sad because I’m not going to parties or hanging out with random people.”

    Although unable to hang out with many people, students have found that restrictions have revealed true friendships and the value of making an effort to stay connected to one another. 

    “Friendships feel deeper in a way because you actually have to reach out to people, and you can see who are your real friends and who’s maybe not…There’s so many friends at school that you say hi to but you wouldn’t hang out outside of school,” Woodruff said. “I kind of missed seeing them, but at the same time all of the people who have reached out to me, we now hang out and FaceTime and that means a lot because I get to know them better.”