After Two Months, a Maskless Prep Readjusts



Ben Ackman, Staff Writer

I remember exactly where I was on the day that Covid reshaped Saint Peter’s Prep. I was a freshman in Ms. Klim’s room on the fourth floor of the English building, waiting for school to end, when Dr. Gomez’s voice came on the intercom. Rumors had already been swirling around campus, some saying that Prep might close temporarily for something called the “Coronavirus,” so I was not entirely surprised to hear what came next: Prep was shutting down. Many of my classmates and I were admittedly — written now with remorse — excited by the prospect of an unscheduled break, one marked by two weeks of online work with an inevitable swift return to normalcy. Yet, the two weeks passed by without adjustment. And then another two weeks. And another. By then, we all knew that school would remain closed for the foreseeable future.

Two years later on Wednesday, March 2nd Dr. Gomez came before the school to again address it at Prep’s Ash Wednesday mass — the first assembly with the entire school present since 2019. The speech marked two years, 11 months, and 18 days since Covid appeared on our doorstep and five days later some students walked into MSC and the English Building with maskless faces.

The transition away from masks was surprisingly easy for many, but still jarring. Often, I would find myself maskless indoors and briefly forget that the mandate was over. For some, nothing changed in that they continued to wear masks every day. Conversely, other people who had not adhered fully to the rules continued that path. Two months after the mandate has ended, people have grown accustomed to life after Covid. Many believe the struggle is over, but it is certain that its effects will be felt far into the future.

My perspective of life after the mask mandate is mine and mine only. To see what the experience was to the rest of the student body, I asked them directly. Their responses are listed below. 

Out of the 43 students who responded to a survey…

10 (24%) are freshmen (‘25).

11 (26%) are sophomores (‘24).

13 (31%) are juniors (‘23).

8 (19%) are seniors (‘22).

34 (79%) approve of the lifting of the mandate.

4 (9%) do not approve.

5 (12%) have no opinion.

When asked how often they have worn a mask since the mandate ended:

42% only when they believe that themselves or others are at risk.

12% said “a little.”

29% said “never” or “only when mandated.”

12% said “daily.”

5% said “almost daily” or “half of the time.”

Selected, anonymous free responses:

I think it’s perfect the way it is.”

“If students or staff feel a need to wear one, go ahead. However a mandate is no longer necessary in my view, so good riddance to masks.”

“We should still do randomized testing.”

“Optional masking is the way to move forward from the fear of the past two years or so. It’s nice to see the faces of teachers/students again, especially as I prepare to leave for college.”

“I’m glad to not have to wear masks at school. Masks in my opinion should be a personal choice. Wear one if you’d like, don’t wear one if you’d like; I don’t believe it’s my place to tell someone else to wear one or not to.”