Masked‌ ‌vs.‌ ‌maskless:‌ ‌The‌ ‌new‌ ‌dynamic‌ ‌of‌ ‌NNHS‌


Photo by Elissa Eaton

Elissa Eaton and Zayna Quraishi

On Tuesday, Feb. 15, students were permitted to walk into the building without a mask for the first time in almost two years. This change came from District 203 Superintendent Dan Bridges and the school board, who announced on Feb. 13 that masks would become optional but highly recommended. This change created a visible difference between students in the building: those who wear a mask and those who don’t. Naperville North encompasses a large body of students and with that, a variety of opinions. 

Unfortunately, the pandemic has become a politicized issue. People have been constantly battling on ways to handle it for the past two years and masking has been commonly debated. An environment in which some people are masked and some people are not could be seen as problematic. Just a few days into the mask optional policy, it is starting to become clear how the dynamic of NNHS is changing.  

Jack Byrne, a senior at North, is optimistic that the lifted mask mandate will improve the overall climate at school. 

“I’m hopeful that we will soon return to what was once a thriving and energetic school. I feel as though we have lost our mojo,” Byrne said. “The more we can get back to how it was before the pandemic, the better it will be for not only student morale but staff morale as well.”

Other students, like freshman Aasha Trivedi, do not see masks as an interference with the overall atmosphere of North. She expressed her frustration about the change in policy. 

“I was really shocked and mad when I found out because, for me personally, I think that a mask is not a big sacrifice to make,” Trivedi said. 

Senior Dylan Holman also disagrees with the removal of the mask mandate. So much so that he is trying to get signatures for a petition to change the decision. Holman emphasized his concerns about phasing out masks.

“My concern at this time is the rhetoric surrounding masking. I think society sees it as a personal choice like clothes, when it is a public health measure that can really be the difference between life and death for some,” Holman said. 

This change has forced students and staff to make a decision. With that decision, no matter what it ends up being, comes a fear of judgment. As of right now, many people in the building are still choosing to stay masked, but that may change within the next few months.

“I actually wear the KN95 and I’ll continue to wear it because I heard that it also protects yourself,” Trivedi said. “I feel like that will just make me feel safe.”  

The dynamic between those who wear a mask and those who do not could be seen as difficult to navigate socially. Sophomore Marcus Hwang, however, said he doesn’t feel any awkwardness during these interactions. 

“I think it’s 100% a choice. I stay masked in most of my time because I feel like it’s safest for me and I feel like I’m protecting others around me that aren’t masked, that could potentially be at risk, so I don’t think it’s awkward at all whether you choose to wear it or not,” Hwang said.

Jackie Thomas, a freshman, believes that any initial awkwardness that students may face will subside as time goes on. 

“Some people give [each other] dirty looks in the hallway, but I think that once everybody comes to terms with people wearing one or not wearing one, they will be more comfortable with it,” Thomas said. 

With what seems to be a constantly changing situation, Byrne sees this change as beneficial. Whether they agree with getting rid of the mask mandate or not, many students are simply wanting a sense of normalcy. 

“I hope this change will last! This is a step in the right direction and that direction is returning to normalcy,” Byrne said.