To mask or not to mask, that is the question

Felicity Fulton, Staff Writer

The mask mandate for Oregon is scheduled to be lifted on March 12, and honestly, I’m not here for it.

No one likes masks. They’re hot, they are hard to breathe in, and they give you “maskne” (mask acne). But you can’t argue that they aren’t effective. I know personally, I haven’t gotten sick in two years. I haven’t even had a cold. So why would I stop wearing one while COVID still rages on?

Sure, it’s slowing down. Over the past week the reported cases per day have been a little under 500 in Oregon. That doesn’t mean it’s over. The pandemic is ongoing, and getting vaccinated, alongside wearing masks, are the only way that we can emerge from this.

The last time that Oregon dropped the mask mandate briefly last summer, they backtracked real fast. I remember coming on campus for Registration & Orientation Leader (ROL) training the day that the mandate went back into effect. I was fine with it being reinstated, but I know that not all of us ROLs felt that way. 

In a recent poll on the The Linfield Review instagram story, 62% of followers who responded said they wished to get rid of masks. I get it, we’re all tired of them. I’d get rid of mine too if it didn’t help so much.

When asking fellow students how they felt about the mask mandate dropping, I received relatively similar answers to my own. 

“I don’t really support it. I feel like they’re doing it because other states are doing it, and not looking at the data. I just don’t think it’s that hard to wear a mask,” said sophomore Bella Miranda-Goeller.

Junior Jordan Tate was a bit more lax about the mask mandate lifting. He’s not ready to ditch it entirely, however.

“The way I see it, if the leading scientists say it’s good to go then it’s good to go. However, I am cautious and feel that many people on campus may be cautious as well so I will continue to wear my mask at least semi-regularly,” Tate said.

The CDC has been frequently updating their COVID guidelines, sometimes so quickly that it becomes confusing. Currently, with the new community level system, Yamhill County, which includes McMinnville, Newberg, and other surrounding towns, is at a medium level. This means that it should theoretically be okay to not wear a mask, unless you’re sick (obviously), or at high-risk in any capacity. If you’re curious, you can find out your county’s risk level, as well as more info about the ratings here.

I suppose I’m just worried. I’m worried that if we drop the mask mandate, events like the Lū’au or Wildstock, the school’s end of year music festival, will become unintentional super spreaders, even if we’re all vaccinated. If we walk from class to class or meet in small groups without masks, I believe it’s up to the individual(s) to decide, but indoors and outside with big groups, I don’t think that’s a good idea. 

Do I want the events to happen? Absolutely! Just with masks, please.

Personally, wearing a mask makes me feel more protected. I even double mask most days, unless I forget. I’m vaccinated and boosted, something I stand heavily by, so by the CDC’s standards I should be fine without a mask. Even so, despite what Linfield plans to do, I’m keeping mine on when that mask mandate drops on March 12. At least for a little while.