To Mask or not to Mask

Nina Cushman '25, Contributor

As of March 24th, the Loomis Chaffee campus has returned to a general mask-optional policy for all except those identified as close contacts for COVID-19. It is no surprise that this change in policy has caused mild dissension and discord as to whether or not becoming mask-optional was the right decision or beneficial.
Personally, I believe that this was the right decision for the school to make due to decreasing COVID-19 rates in both Connecticut and the country as a whole.
As of early April, global COVID-19 rates are the lowest they have been since May 2021, which was over 10 months ago. In Connecticut, the same applies, with 7-day average cases consistently staying under 500 (New York Times).
While it is still very common to have apprehensions surrounding unmasking in public,
becoming mask-optional was the right decision for LC.
“I think the new policy has been effective in creating a stronger learning environment, because we are now able to see our peers’ and teachers’ expressions to better engage and interact in the classroom,” Sally Hayes ’25 said.
Her friend, Riley Ostroff ‘25, agreed. “It is much easier to stay focused in class and in sports without having to deal with masks. I have personally stopped wearing masks on campus because I feel safe enough now, and it is more convenient.”
Teachers, meanwhile, concur that Loomis’ loosened Covid policies have increased the quality of student-faculty interactions within the classroom.
“I wear my mask in the classroom because I spend a significant amount of time with people outside of this community as a day faculty member. Although, as a language teacher, I do think my students would benefit from being able to see my whole face, for pronunciation, facial expressions, and context clues, said Ms. Carmen Hatchell, Modern and Classical Languages faculty.
Overall, this new policy has undeniably benefited our campus and the general atmosphere in classrooms, sports, dorms, and other on-campus activities. Even if the adjustment seems small, it truly has made a positive difference on the island by allowing us to better communicate and interact with our peers, faculty, and staff.
In terms of safety, having a mask-optional policy is feasible and proven to be safe—evident by its success in the past few weeks. Loomis’ relaxed approach to COVID-19 is well-warranted in a world where the virus’ severity has substantially decreased, along with a dire need for students and teachers alike to return to a “new normal.”