No Mask, but Still Class?


Ellery Scott, reporter

Going mask-free. How do we act? How do we react? Most importantly, how is this affecting students, teachers, and faculty?

On April 9, 2021, Alabama’s governor, Kay Ivey, lifted the mask mandate state-wide, allowing all of us to see smiling faces once again. Although this news came as joyful to most, The Pirateer was left wondering how this “new” way of life was affecting Fairhope High School.

We spoke to students, teachers, and faculty alike to find out their point of view when it comes to going mask-free.

Questions for Students

What has been the biggest change that you have experienced previously wearing masks to school?

“The biggest change when masks were mandated was really just not being able to see everyone’s full faces.” – Ashton Lamarr (10)

“Wearing a mask to school during the season of pandemic helped me feel protected but it was also a constant reminder of the time that we were living in. Although I know masks were keeping me safe and I appreciate my peers wearing them, the biggest change I have felt is not being able to see others’ smiles. I never knew how much of an impact such a simple gesture had on my day.” – Laney Haas (12)

“One of the biggest changes I’ve experienced is more concessions of facial expressions and social interactions in general. You really know people a lot more, not just because you know what they look like every day, but how they react and act. You just really get to see people’s personality more and it’s very refreshing and makes going to school a little less painful.” – Jesse Haven (10)

Do you like that we are now allowed to go mask-free?

“Not really. I think that right now, especially after spring break, it was not a good time to lift the mask mandate at school, due to lots of people coming back from traveling.” – Ashton Lamarr (10)

“Yes.” – Laney Haas (12)

“I have mixed feelings. I’m happy I get to see everyone but I’m also still very concerned about Covid. A lot of people I know have either had Covid or are vaccinated but some are neither and that’s what concerns me. I’m concerned that the people that aren’t immune spread the disease and cause the Covid cases to climb. I don’t want more of my high school experience taken away from this virus.” – Jesse Haven (10)

What do you prefer to wear: mask or no mask? 

“I prefer to wear a mask at school because I have not been vaccinated for Covid yet and want to keep myself and others safe.” – Ashton Lamarr (10)

“Personally, I do not wear a mask because my parents have been vaccinated. I know that if I develop COVID-19 it will no longer have a devastating effect on my family.” – Laney Haas (12)

“Both! I wear masks almost everywhere except school. I’m immune but I think wearing a mask in public makes people feel more comfortable and it makes me too. I don’t wear it at school because it’s not as foreign, there doesn’t seem like there’s much of a need to either since no one wears them either. Everyone also feels comfortable. Without masks it makes everything feel homier.” – Jesse Haven (10)

How has wearing a mask versus not wearing a mask changed your school day? 

“Since I still wear my mask, not much has changed for me except that seeing people without a mask on is kind of weird. I am not used to seeing people’s full face at school since we had to wear masks all last semester and most of this semester up until this point.” – Ashton Lamarr (10)

“Wearing a mask has limited some of my confidence. Such as I am afraid to speak up in class for fear that people will not hear me or I will have to repeat myself. However, I feel this is a small price to pay in order to keep myself and those around me safe!” – Laney Haas (12)

“Not wearing a mask has definitely made everyone happier. I’m actually excited to go to school now because I get to actually see my friends. It’s definitely more exciting to be able to put makeup and that overall has made me excited for school.” – Jesse Haven (10)

Questions for Teachers

How do you feel about the school being allowed to go mask-free?

“The first few days have been a bit surreal. It seems odd to be walking down our halls, teaching most classes without a mask (if I am near a student with a mask, I want to be respectful and use a mask in their presence). In addition, I find myself studying my students’ faces as though it is August, and I am just meeting them. I have a few students continuing to wear masks, with one indicating he remains concerned about a grandparent who lives with his family.” – Daniel Starling

“I think it’s fine. I think as long as people keep their distance from one another and wash their hands. They just need to stay safe.” – Gabrielle Gilson

“I feel that students are now able to live and breathe freely under the mask-free school update.” – Melissa Jones

What do you think teachers and students should still be doing in order to prevent Covid?

“I think our community should remain cautious, and I continue to use cleaners in my room for desktops and hands.” – Daniel Starling

“Washing your hands and keeping your distance.” – Gabrielle Gilson

“I believe we should still hand sanitize often, wash our hands frequently, and monitor our symptoms.  We need to stay home if we are at risk or could have covid.” – Melissa Jones

What has been the biggest change in the classroom wearing masks, versus not wearing masks?

“Wearing masks reduces the effectiveness and efficiency of our communication. Now that many of us have removed our masks, I can read the expressions on my students’ faces, a clear aspect of communication that has been limited by wearing masks.” – Daniel Starling

“Student feedback and communication have increased. Their engagement has changed. Students seem to participate and engage more in class when they don’t have a mask on.” – Kelly Williams

“The biggest change I’ve seen is a lack of emotions in my classes. I feel that we couldn’t see each other smile, laugh, make facial expressions.  It was just blank stares; I felt no one really knew each other.” – Melissa Jones

Which do you like better: mask or no mask? 

“I think this depends on our health situation; if we need to wear them for the health of our community, I will wear one once again. If our situation allows us to go mask free, I am appreciative of this gift, to see my students smile at my puns, at least some of them.” – Daniel Starling 

“I feel like I smile more without a mask. The relationships with my students have only become better. I now have the opportunity to share more.” Kelly Williams

“I much prefer no masks! I love seeing my students smile! I love seeing their faces light up when they understand or are happy about something. I’ve had covid and I wore a mask at my home to try and prevent my children from getting it… they still got covid. I’m not convinced the masks were truly keeping us safe.” – Melissa Jones

Questions for Faculty

How has wearing a mask versus not wearing a mask changed your school day? 

“I love seeing students’ faces and smiles.  It makes the mornings much more pleasant.  Also, I feel like conversations aren’t muffled and unclear.  I am having to shave more now since my laziness is not concealed behind a mask.” – Jon Cardwell

How do you feel about the school being allowed to go mask-free?

“I like the ease for the kids, but I still fear an outbreak or passages.  A lot of the kids with compromised situations are still masking up, and I think that is super-responsible.  Our absences from Flu and viruses were down, so the mask really did a lot in the way of fighting sickness.” – Jon Cardwell

What do you think teachers and students should still be doing in order to prevent Covid?

“The school is still sanitizing every afternoon and we’re still encouraging kids and staff to utilize hand sanitizing stations and remain vigilant.  We need to continue to be careful and not be negligent.” – Jon Cardwell

In conclusion, I think it is safe to say that everyone feels differently about our new mask-free life at Fairhope High School. However, there is one thing that students, teachers, and faculty,  all agree on. We as a collective have missed seeing smiling faces in the halls and are glad to be back to a semi-normal. Although some might consider masks a thing of the past, we must all remain cautious of our safety as a school and continue to be considerate to others during these times.