Why Are Most Parks Jr. High Students Keeping Their Masks on?


Ella Garabedian, Contributor

The mask mandate is one of the many precautions Americans have been required to follow due to the Covid-19 pandemic. However, what was once a necessary precaution to prevent people from contracting the virus is now deemed by many as a burden. Thus, the mask mandate being lifted in California schools should have been a remarkable step in the right direction. However, almost everyone at Parks Jr. High chose to continue to wear their masks, but why?

There are two overriding reasons as to why this is the outcome; students want to keep themselves and others safe from the virus, and general fear of “mask-fishing.” Mask-fishing, similar to the popular internet term “cat-fishing,” is a term used to describe those who appear a certain way with their masks on, but look drastically different from their expected appearance when it is off. This is able to understandably cause students to build feelings of insecurity about the way they look.

Recognizing that someone does not look how you pictured them when they pulled their mask down is not necessarily a negative thing. Today when meeting new people, we only see the top half of everyone’s face, and because our brain has no prior knowledge as to how the lower half of a person’s face may look, it is only natural that we create a picture in our head of the lower half of their face to fill in the parts of their face that we do not see. The problem with this is that we typically picture everyone to meet some sort of unrealistic beauty standard when they pull down their mask, when in reality they might not look as appealing. It especially does not help that middle school is the general age where adolescents are in their “awkward” stage. The mask however, may provide a sense of comfort to anyone, specifically insecure junior high school students, who might not be as confident about their lower facial features.

To follow this argument, the mask is still a beneficial safety measure. In fact, experts fear that we are not yet in a state where we can safely take such a huge step towards regularity. An example of this would be the fact that 68% of children between the ages of 12-17 have received at least one vaccine dose, as opposed to 79% of adults from the ages of 25-39 who have received at least one dose of the vaccine. In fact, a chart provided by the CDC website suggests that the older you are, the more likely you are to be vaccinated to at least some extent. This information alone contributes to the argument that maybe schools should not be so fast to let go of safety measures against COVID-19.

One cannot deny that the pandemic is still a fairly prominent issue in our country. It has caused many junior high school students to feel depressed, anxious, stressed, etc. and although normalcy is something we should strive for after everything we have gone through, maybe taking things slow is not the worst option.