Students and teachers share why they choose the masks they wear to school. 

BY LUCY MILLER, ’23.

Masks have been seen as both an inconvenience and necessity to some worldwide for nearly a year. Despite not understanding what the person next to you said and constantly forgetting to grab them before running into a store, students and staff at UA High School have found a way to make the most out of these facial coverings. Using them to express themselves, they have sometimes become something else entirely. 

While wearing a mask in the school is a requirement due to the circumstances of the past year, some make it another element to planned outfits or use it as a way to express interests or passions. On the other side, some students wear disposable surgical masks in the building.

“I only wear disposable masks because I don’t feel the need to go out and buy cloth ones,” freshman Esmerelda Qemalli said. 

However, some wear masks that they find interesting or pretty, preferring patterns and colors to show off their taste. 

“I have a variety of floral and colored masks that I picked out because they’re cute,” junior Ellie Watson said. 

She just enjoys, “seeing others and getting compliments on them.”

Many students are seen wearing masks that show their involvement with sports teams. Junior Connor Swart, a member of the Upper Arlington Men’s Soccer team, often wears a mask he received for playing with the team. 

“I love the team and having a way to show everyone that I’m a part of something as great as our team, I don’t know why I wouldn’t wear it,” Swart said. “It’s a way for students to show their involvement in school activities and clubs without bragging.” 

In addition to sports masks, some are seen wearing facial coverings that express beliefs when it comes to politics or current events. Before the presidential election last year, some students would wear masks in support of either candidate. While political slogans may be controversial to some, those who wear them, often wear them with pride.

“I wear them to start conversations. I think it’s entertaining to talk to people who think differently than me, and when I wear it, I always get some sort of comments,” senior Nick Eggleton said. 

Masks have become more than just a safety precaution. They can now be conversation pieces that weren’t around before COVID-19. 

For some teachers, these masks have still been more of an inconvenience than a fashion piece. Some have said they feel the need to speak louder than in a normal classroom and find it hard to project their voice to that level. The inability to read lips while speaking is also a difficulty. To help solve this issue, some educators like history teacher Scott Shinaberry have started wearing transparent masks. These allow for students to see their teachers speak while still preventing the spread of the virus.

“I thought that people could at least see you smile at them, or if you have hard of hearing students, they could see your facial expressions and read your lips,” Shinaberry said. 

The school encouraged these transparent masks for teachers who have deaf or hard of hearing students in their classrooms.

While mask mandates became the norm in Ohio in 2020 and is in effect at UAHS, the CDC now recommends that people “double mask” or wear two masks on top of each other to further protect from the virus. Despite this update, students will not be required to do this in school buildings with the return to learning in-class five-days-a-week.