Opinion: Keep COVID-19 protocols in mind this semester

As a new year and new Spring semester begin, students across campus are once again reminded of the COVID-19 protocols Boise State has put into place. At this point, donning a mask before I leave my dorm and keeping at least six-feet away from others has become a habit rather than a challenge for me. 

I have begun to notice, as I watch various TV shows and movies even released pre-Coronavirus, I always think “where are their masks?” or “they should not be that close,” before I recall that COVID-19 has only been affecting my life for less than a year. 

While masks and social distancing have become a part of my life, it seems that not everyone has fallen into the same habits. At least once a week, I will interact with a coworker, classmate or even a professor who pulls down their mask to speak with me or someone else, or otherwise does not follow proper protocols. Even today as I walked into class, I noticed a student wearing their mask below their nose. 

It usually leaves me stunned, and honestly, a little mad. Not only is this person endangering themselves, they are also risking exposing me to COVID-19.

Students sitting social distanced with masks in class.
Photo by Mackenzie Hudson

Boise State students, faculty, staff and visitors, please understand the importance of wearing your mask properly and staying six-feet away from others. COVID-19 is not something to risk getting for the sake of easier communication, or any other reason. 

I know it can be hard. Communicating with others can be super challenging with masks on and with the distance between each other. It is hard to hear one another, and class discussions grow strenuous under muffled voices. But that is something we have to live with now.

Along with that, you would not want someone who has been exposed to someone with a fever or a cold getting close to and speaking with you, so why would you let someone who possibly has been exposed to COVID-19 do exactly that?

I think that the reason for these issues is a possible lack of education or belief in the science behind masks and social distancing, which I could understand. Why would I do something that I am not sure really works? But these things really do work; there is science behind the use of masks and the implementation of social distancing, otherwise health officials and medical professionals would not be continuing to suggest the enforcement of these policies. 

It is true that, toward the beginning of the pandemic, masks were not required or suggested by health officials. Many people do not understand why, after the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was not in favor of implementing masks, they suddenly changed their minds. 

The fact is that the coronavirus was rather new to us, and therefore the science behind the virus was new. Science constantly develops and changes, so just because one thing was suggested at first does not mean that suggestion cannot be modified or changed when more information becomes available and more research is done.

According to the World Health Organization, “Masks are a key measure to suppress transmission and save lives. Masks can be used for either protection of healthy persons or to prevent onward transmission. While wearing a mask, you should still keep physical distance from others as much as possible. Wearing a mask does not mean you can have close contact with people. For indoor public settings such as schools, you should wear a mask.” 

COVID-19 is not something to risk getting in any capacity. Even if you are not in the demographics most likely to die from the virus, it is still likely to incapacitate you for months after contraction, and not just physically. Many of my friends and peers who had the virus, even those with minimal to mild symptoms, have struggled with motivation and depression since their recoveries

So, as we continue this whirlwind of a year, please keep your fellow students, faculty and staff in mind as you go about your life. Wear a mask properly around others, stay six-feet apart and do everything in your power to keep yourself and others safe.

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