Students reflect on CUNY mask mandate lift

CUNY’s temporary mask mandate was lifted on March 7, about seven months after it was implemented. The policy change is in response to the removal of mask mandates in city and state schools and revised guidance by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“We’ve arrived at this point because of the effort that we all have put forth to protect one another as we looked out for ourselves and our loved ones,” CUNY Chancellor Félix Matos Rodríguez said in an email sent on March 4.


It’s the right time to end CUNY’s mask mandate

Jahlil Rush

When CUNY announced it was enforcing a mask mandate on August 2021, it made sense since COVID-19 case numbers were nothing to smile about. But the CUNY community beat the COVID-19 storm, so it is time to do away with the mask mandate.

The end of CUNY’s mask mandate is refreshing news, as it only further strengthens the argument that the pandemic is at an end. However, celebrating the end of the mask mandate is not applauding the terrible effects the pandemic had on CUNY.

CUNY Chancellor Félix Matos Rodríguez said in his email to all students that CUNY would continue to track the CDC’s guidelines and COVID-19 case numbers to reconsider their decision if the numbers change.

Keeping track of the numbers is the correct method to move forward with as it subtly tells students and faculty alike not to throw away their mask completely, but keep it on standby in case.

Making mask-wearing a choice rather than a forced mandate is the best way to move forward in a post-pandemic CUNY.

Students should respect the wishes of the Baruch faculty who may ask students to wear a mask when in tiny office spaces or semi populated campus spaces.

Some students may be skeptical and want to continue to wear a mask and their decision to do so should be respected.

With the mask mandate slowly becoming a distant memory, students should look forward to returning to the pre-pandemic days, when club spaces were not limited due to social distancing efforts and we could see happy smiles on other students’ faces during events.


Fear comes with CUNY’s mask lift

Emma Paisley Shultz

On March 11, 2020, the pandemic began. Although the first cases of coronavirus preceded that date, it was the day I was forced to reckon with a new normal as CUNY announced in-person learning would be replaced by remote classes.

For the next year and a half, my college years were plagued, quite literally, with a deadly virus and an influx of Zoom invitations.

When CUNY announced that it would once again hold in-person classes last semester, I was both excited and scared. I craved being in the presence of my peers, even if social distancing existed to limit it.

Although half of my classmates’ and professors’ faces were shielded by masks, it served as a reminder of how entering a classroom could threaten my physical wellbeing. It somehow felt safer to resume some kind of normalcy than to isolate from reality.

Now CUNY lifted the mask mandate, and yet, I feel less safe than ever.

A few weeks before this announcement, my classmate took her mask off, ate a meal and kept it off during the remainder of the period. My mind somehow silenced any word that came out of my professor’s mouth by how overwhelmingly loud her presence was.

Later on, I asked my professor to say something to her because I simply could not focus out of discomfort and, honestly, fear for my safety.

Walking into the halls of Baruch now, I carry this fear with me. At the same time, I somehow feel happy for my classmate who can now eat her food in peace. Sometimes, I wish I were her.


Respect everyone’s mask-wearing decision at CUNY

David Alvarado

CUNY lifted its temporary mask mandate, finally allowing students to reveal their identities amid a massive pandemic milestone. Although most Baruch students are fully vaccinated, not wearing a mask seems debatable.

Mask wearing is the new “normal” and the world may never return to the way it was before.

It’s uncertain how many Baruch students are ok with losing their masks, but those who are confident enough to show their faces shouldn’t be scorned for their choice, especially since they must abide by CUNY’s vaccine policy to attend in-person classes.

“There’s nothing that’s ‘safe’— it’s always ‘safer.’ If you are fully vaccinated, it is safer than it was two years ago to be around people without a mask,” Sheela Shenoi, an infectious disease specialist, told Yale Medicine.

Students and staff who continue to wear their masks shouldn’t face judgment either as one doesn’t know how severely the pandemic has affected them or their loved ones. Respecting people’s choices isn’t an option — it’s a must.

While many students will be happy to interact with one another more personally, some students may find it hard adjusting to an environment where they feel their health is compromised, which isn’t outrageous.

The pandemic isn’t going anywhere. However, approximately 70% of the United States can remove their masks indoors and outdoors if they want, according to the latest recommendations from the CDC.

It’s safe to say that CUNY’s school mask mandate could change at any moment. Sadly, students who believe not wearing a mask in school is permanent are mistaken.


For the heat allergic, no mask mandate is a relief

Amanda Salazar

As someone who has a skin allergy to heat — especially when there’s moisture or humidity involved — wearing a mask has been an unfortunate thing.

Sure, masks are uncomfortable for everyone. They make your face warm, smudge makeup, cause acne and leave a greasy feeling behind.

But all of that gets even worse when you have a heat allergy, like mine, which gives your face a rash every time you wear the mask for any period that’s longer than five minutes and in any temperature that’s above 32 degrees Fahrenheit.

Now that wearing masks on campus is optional, it means I won’t have to get a reaction every time I go to class. These reactions make my face all pink and warm and can sometimes take hours to go away.

So while wearing masks is definitely important to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and other viruses, I’m happy to not be forced to wear one anymore.

The downside, though, is that some people automatically assume that anyone who’s not wearing a mask is an anti-masker, someone who hates masks or doesn’t believe in their effectiveness or maybe even someone who doesn’t believe that COVID-19 is real.

That’s absolutely not me, but now instead of worrying about getting an allergic reaction on my face from wearing a mask, I have to worry about being judged for not wearing one.

It seems like those of us with Cholinergic urticaria, hives caused by heat or sweat, can’t win in this pandemic.


CUNY’s mask lift is a risky move

Hande Erkan

CUNY has attracted mixed reactions after becoming one of the latest institutions to lift its mask mandate in a premature decision that will put students at risk of getting COVID-19.

Rodriguez gave the directive following policy changes and new guidelines by the CDC advocating for lifting mask mandates in state schools.

However, this decision has dealt a major blow to the fight against COVID-19 and all the achievements made. The state has not significantly improved the daily infection rate based on the infection curve.

Lifting the mask mandates risks increasing the rate of infection significantly, thus affecting the progress made in combating the virus.

This move is also likely to increase tension at Baruch. Students will start limiting their interactions with their counterparts who are not wearing masks for fear of getting the virus.

Medical experts have occasionally cited the effective role that masks have played in the fight to curb the spread of the coronavirus in public places.

Lisa Maragakis, a professor of medicine at The Johns Hopkins Health System and an expert in infection prevention, acknowledges the effectiveness of wearing masks in preventing the spread of the coronavirus in crowded places.

Maragakis said that masks tend to trap the virus’s droplets that would otherwise be inhaled, thus protecting one from being infected while in a crowded environment.

It would be better if the decision was delayed until the situation was taken under control to prevent another wave of infections.


Students’ comfort zone challenged with CUNY mask lift

Geraldine Taveras

Following the lifting of the mask mandate in CUNY schools, Baruch students were hesitant to take their coverings off. Though after a few days, more and more faces were starting to appear in classes and around campus.

On March 4, New York City Mayor Eric Adams introduced a color warning system that indicates the city’s COVID-19 rate and corresponding procedures. Currently, the alert level is green, which signals a low COVID-19 spread and allows for the easing of mask restrictions and vaccine requirements within restaurants and other recreational business spaces.

Because of the change in policy, we could see and hear more people talking with each other around the school. It seems then, that we are slowly rising from the awkward and introverted holes we’ve buried ourselves into.

When we wear our masks, we are protecting ourselves as well as those around us, but masks are also symbolic of the current pandemic ideology that views socializing as hazardous.

Adams laments about the lack of expression and ability to sympathize mask-wearing has caused.

“We want to see the faces of our children. We want to see their smiles. We want to see when they’re feeling sad, so that we could be there to comfort them, and the mask prevented us from doing so,” Adams said according to Gothamist.

In the age of social media, where interactions are painstakingly calculated and people we hang out with are thoroughly screened, the new mask policy came right in time to take us back out of our comfort zone.