Student perspectives on policies that require face masks during the coronavirus pandemic


Jeff Helsel

First-year students Sarah Tinker, Masontown, Pa. and Taylor Tubbs, Smithfield, Pa. at a California University of Pennsylvania “Welcome Weekend” event at the off-campus Vulcan Village apartments on Aug. 22.

Covid-19 has made a huge impact on the world. One of the biggest changes that have happened involves masks. Almost every time you leave the house, you need to have a mask with you, especially students.

Most students at California University of Pennsylvania said they don’t mind wearing a mask, especially if it helps. Marissa Sorenson, senior, said that masks shouldn’t be up for debate.

“I don’t think masks should be up for debate– obviously wearing a mask is more uncomfortable than not, but if it makes the difference of life and death, then it shouldn’t even be a second thought. I have no problem wearing a mask,” said Sorenson.

There are also students who said that they don’t like masks, but we have to wear them anyway.

“I think it’s annoying and inconvenient but sometimes you have to do what you have to do,” said Hailey Hart, senior.

Most students said that they think masks really do work to help lessen the risk of getting infected by the virus. Julia O’Dell, sophomore, said that she thinks masks protect many people.

“I strongly believe that wearing masks help. I believe that it both protects the user and, even more so, protects those around us. It prevents the spread of a virus that is largely asymptomatic,” said O’Dell.

Sorensen said that masks only work if everyone wears them. Masks won’t make a difference if only one person out of every five wears one. She said science proves they work if they are worn and executed properly.

“Just wear the mask,” said Sorenson. “Even if it doesn’t work, you’ve lost nothing other than the small inconvenience of wearing a cloth on your face. But if they do work, then great! You may have saved a life.”

If Cal U returns to partial in-person classes for the Spring 2021 semester, the university has already put mask rules in place to help keep everyone safe. One rule states that masks must be worn at all times indoors. Most students agreed with this.

“When indoors, the virus is not exposed to as much direct sunlight (sometimes none at all), said O’Dell. “Therefore, if someone were to have the virus and walk down a hallway coughing, the virus particles would linger in the air longer than it would outside.

It could also survive on surfaces longer indoors as well. Masks indoors are 100% necessary, 100% of the time.”

Another mask rule states that masks must be worn outside if it is impossible to socially distance. Most students think that most will follow this rule, though there will be some students who do not.

“I highly doubt people walking to or from their cars or from class to class will wear them,” said Dylan Higinbotham, sophomore.

Several students said that one of the worst things about wearing masks was not being able to see people’s faces and smiles.

“I honestly just miss being able to smile at people and being able to see other people’s smiles too,” said O’Dell.

Students said they think we’ll be wearing masks for anywhere from the end of summer 2021 to three to six months after most Americans are vaccinated.

“We might as well just adjust to them being a common use of apparel in public,” said Gabriel Sellers, freshman.

Overall, most students are okay with wearing masks, even if it’s uncomfortable and inconvenient. Earl Christopher, senior, urges everyone to wear their masks.

“I know wearing a mask can be a nuisance and an inconvenience at times. But you must think of the bigger picture. It is scientifically proven that wearing a mask mitigates the spread of COVID-19. In addition, staying home when possible while social distancing. I know it is a sacrifice. Especially near the holidays. But you must understand that people are dying at an alarmingly fast rate. We must stop thinking about ourselves and start thinking about those most vulnerable. Please stay home, social distance, and wear your mask!”