IACS is lifting its mask requirement at the school on March 14, two years after COVID first began affecting student life.
Masks have been required at the school for students since 2020, and have stayed throughout the hybrid and full time models.
In February, the state of Massachusetts sent out advisory that “A fully vaccinated individual should wear a mask indoors if you have a weakened immune system, or if you are at increased risk for severe disease because of your age or an underlying medical condition, or if someone in your household has a weakened immune system, is at increased risk for severe disease or is unvaccinated.”
This means that masks are recommended, but not required for some vaccinated and unvaccinated people.
So, schools in Massachusetts, including Billerica, Dracut, and Westford, have been lifting restrictions on masks; IACS will follow suit on Monday.
Student reactions to this news have been very good overall, with many expressing excitement at being able to finally see their friends’ faces and begin the shift back to normal life. However, this excitement comes with uncertainty as it has been exactly two years since that fateful March day in 2020 where school was canceled for the first time.
How will this adjustment play out, and what do students plan to do with this information?
Senior Elea Zegdoun mentioned mixed feelings about this change. “I don’t know how comfortable I’ll be with being so close to some people, since a few of my classes are pretty crowded,” she admitted. “But, I miss seeing people’s faces and I miss being able to breathe clearly, especially in stuffy classrooms.”
Junior Max Donahue expressed a concern for others in her thoughts on the transition, “I have friends and family that I see a lot and I would like to continue to see. I am vaccinated so I don’t know how COVID would affect me, but I know I could carry it and give it to someone else.”
Since the whole point of wearing a face covering is to slow the spread of COVID, it is possible that the school could see a spike in cases after the mask requirement.
“For the first few weeks after the mandate gets lifted, seeing a surge in cases, if there even is one, will be interesting.” Zegdoun said.
“It might not even change things, and we could stay safe without the masks.” Junior Drew Picard remarked.
Picard explained that he will likely continue to use a mask for at least the first few weeks after this Monday. “Personally I’ll wear it, but I don’t have an issue with anyone who doesn’t.”
Sophomore Sarah Gierke is one of the students who will choose not to wear a mask. “Being fully vaccinated, I’ll feel fine taking my mask off in most situations. If I feel unsafe, I’ll just put it back on,” she explained. “At lunch with masks off, we often sit closer than we do in classes with masks on.”
Students at IACS are no stranger to COVID now, so it is positive that they will take this change in stride. Make sure to bring your best smiles to school this Monday!