OPINION: Masks should be normalized after pandemic ends

Several WSU students hope to continue wearing masks when sick, to prevent illness

Masks+could+serve+as+useful+following+the+pandemic.

LAUREN PETTIT

Masks could serve as useful following the pandemic.

GRACE LAPIERRE, Evergreen columnist

A mask is now on the checklist with phones, wallets and keys when prepping to leave the house.

But when the pandemic passes and we are no longer required to wear masks, I hope it remains acceptable to wear a mask if you are sick or worried about getting sick. Not a lot of people can just skip out on school or work because they don’t feel well, but that forces them to expose others.

Serena DesVignes, sophomore hospitality and business management major, said she thinks it will be more socially acceptable to continue wearing masks in public after the pandemic. The pandemic made people realize it is better to be safe than sorry.

DesVignes said she thinks it was difficult for people to get used to the idea of wearing a mask because it was so new — she struggled to remember her mask in the beginning.

“When you start wearing glasses or contacts, it’s something you need to add into your routine and maintain,” DesVignes said.

DesVignes said people who believe COVID-19 is a conspiracy are more likely to refuse to wear a mask.

One of the common loopholes for getting around the mask mandate is when people make a mask out of mesh or thin, netted fabrics like tulle. When people wear masks like that, they’re doing it because they have to wear a mask but aren’t really considering why people are wearing masks in the first place, DesVignes said.

“At that point it’s a little bit selfish because a netted mask isn’t going to do anything,” DesVignes said.

DesVignes had a coworker who used the aesthetic of the netted fabric by putting it as a top layer over a different fabric, keeping it functional, she said.

Personally, I think that is a great way to do it. Pick a contrasting color, some cool embroidered mesh fabric, and make a fun yet functional mask.

Another interesting mask choice is a mask with Velcro, made by Tanioka Masks.

Tanioka Masks, used for dining out during the pandemic (DOROTHY GREENHALGE)

While the concept is entertaining and seems intended solely for eating out, DesVignes noted two issues with it. First, Velcro eventually stops working, which means this mask won’t be so useful after a while. And giving a mask like that to a child would likely result in the child consistently ripping off the removable piece.

“I can literally hear a mom yelling at a kid, ‘Stop ripping your Velcro shield off,’” DesVignes said.

Max Dingfelder, senior secondary education major, said he could see mask-wearing being normalized after the pandemic.

Dingfelder said he can see both sides of the issue. He understands how wearing a mask is safe and effective in stopping the spread of COVID, but he can also see how masks can be seen as a nuisance.

“One thing I had to tell myself is to put my own inconveniences aside for the greater good. If something happens to me, I might have a chance of fighting it off and others might not. It helps stop me from spreading it to others and affecting them,” Dingfelder said.

He said he would love a future where we don’t need to wear masks at all, but does think it would be good for people to wear a mask if they are sick.

Dingfelder said he thinks it was hard for people to adjust to masks because it is a restriction, and it’s not fun. But it became controversial because some people either don’t believe in it or have conflicting ideals.

“This is just my opinion, but some people fail to see the bigger picture,” Dingfelder said.

He said it was hard because people just want to go back to their lives back, and for some people this is the first time they’ve had a restriction like this. 

Dingfelder said he thinks fashionable masks would be a cool way to normalize mask-wearing, assuming the masks work. 

When it comes to the Japanese eating mask by Tanioka Masks, Dingfelder said he never saw eating with a mask as a big inconvenience. He said he just moves the mask, takes a bite, and moves the mask back.

I have to agree, it was never that big of a deal for me. Besides, in a pandemic, I would much rather just get my food to go if I don’t cook it at home. 

None of us are sure what to expect when the pandemic does pass, but the three of us can see masks possibly becoming normalized. I hope they do.

I wish it had always been normal for people in the U.S. to wear a mask if they have to be out in public while sick, as it is much more considerate of others. While I know not everyone would, even if it had always been socially acceptable, it would be nice to have it be encouraged.