Hesitant to unmask

Students share concerns about lifting mask mandates

Vy Khanh Vu, Staff Writer

Many stores and restaurants that require masks or vaccination cards for entrance display signs like these in the front of their stores. Soon we may be seeing less of them. (Sharli Mishra)

Gov. Jay Inslee announced that the statewide indoor mask mandate will lift in most indoor spaces on Mar. 12, including at schools, child care facilities, grocery stores and houses of worship.

Inslee stated that this decision is in accordance with CDC recommendations, which state that immunity has risen due to vaccination and resistance from infection, reducing the overall risk of severe symptoms.

This decision comes following the Washington State Department of Health lifting outdoor mask mandates for large outdoor events on Feb. 18, 2022. Despite previous hesitation, King County will also be included in the mandate lift.

Many students of Seattle Pacific University seem hesitant of the governor’s recent announcement. According to a poll conducted by The Falcon, 93 out of 131 participants do not think mask mandates should be lifted this spring.

Second-year biochemistry major Alessandro Rizzi believes that the majority of students on campus will choose to wear masks even if the mandate is lifted. 

“If the mandate is going to be lifted, I’m pretty sure that some students are still going to choose to wear their masks,” Rizzi said. “I don’t feel strongly towards or against the mandate lifting. Personally, I’m just going to wear a mask.”

Briseida Espindola-Calderon is a third-year apparel design student, and she does not think this is the right time. With cases still on the rise, Espindola-Calderon thinks the mandate should be lifted when the number of cases slow down further.

“I don’t think it should be lifted just yet,” Espindola-Calderon said. “As much as we would like not to wear masks, I think at this point, just be patient and wait for everything to really calm down. Because if we keep going like this, it is going to be like a never-ending circle.” 

The spike of cases on campus at the beginning of the year pushed professors and students to be more cautious, and second-year economics major, Cynthia Nguyen, explained how important masks are for keeping SPU’s campus safe. 

“Vaccinations are to protect yourself, and people say masks are to protect others,” Nguyen said.  “Are you comfortable with endangering other people by not wearing a mask? I do understand it is hard for students to have masks in class, especially when lecture halls are full of people, but aside from COVID, other things like allergies and coughing are going around too.”

Third-year mechanical engineering major, Ryan Budd, shared that wearing a mask indoors, especially in a crowded setting, is to protect other people. 

“I think generally, I would be comfortable not wearing a mask outside for the most part,” Budd said. “Inside enclosed spaces, especially with many people around, I’d probably still wear a mask just to protect those around me and be safe.”

From the beginning of the pandemic, masks have worked as a helpful tool to protect community health. According to WA DOH, evidence shows that wearing a mask reduces an infected person’s chance of spreading the infection to others.

Hannah Waterman, a fourth-year political science major, works in customer service. Waterman believes that when a customer wears a mask, they are choosing to protect employees.

“One hundred percent,” Waterman said. “I do think customers wearing masks is to protect service workers and show that you respect and care for their health.”

Like many other students, Waterman expressed that she yearns for normalcy like before the pandemic. However, she understands that wearing a mask in high-exposure settings is important, especially for service workers who have to meet and interact with many people a day. 

“I understand that getting rid of the mask would be comfortable for the customer, but we meet a ton of people who come in a day and can get exposed to the virus because of that,” Waterman said. “Sometimes, I had to wear two layers of mask. I do look forward to the normalcy where we don’t have to wear masks and without the fear of catching the virus.”

For students like fourth-year cellular and molecular biology major, Johnny Abraham, has four nephews in Italy. Because senior and children populations are more vulnerable to the virus, Abraham thinks wearing a mask also protects other people’s loved ones.

“I will wear a mask for them because you never know what will happen,” Abraham said. “Many people here might have younger siblings or nephews, or grandparents at home, like me. You know, especially that we are in very close contact with each other in class.”