As a new academic year dawns, one thing will remain the same: masking on campus.
Although, while looking around campus, you may be unaware that UNB will maintain the mask policy throughout this academic year.
It seems, however, that the enforcement of the policy so far is pretty lax. I have caught myself walking into a building several times without a mask, and so far, no one has said a word to me.
Moreover, I have witnessed many students, staff, and faculty who seem to be making the same mistake after a mask-free summer. Make no mistake, I am not writing this as an indictment of anyone’s opinions on masking, either positive or negative.
Rather I am writing to pose the question: why are we so eager to shed our masks and return to “normal”?
Returning to “Normal”?
COVID-19 exposed severe flaws in the systems that govern and administer society, so why are we scrambling to return to that status quo?
I feel that fear of the unknown entices us to ignore the reality of COVID, which is still a real threat. As much as I wouldn’t say I like masks, I still think there is merit to wearing them, especially for the immunocompromised among us.
There has been a very loud conversation surrounding masking and vaccines that have co-opted the narrative surrounding COVID-19, which has now become a political issue rather than a public health issue.
The goal of masking and vaccine mandates isn’t about controlling the population or limiting freedoms: it is about limiting the damage, not only to the health of the public but also to the healthcare system.
I don’t want this to get political, nor do I want to preach about the virtues of mask-wearing. The point of this piece is to encourage us all to look at masking as a sensible precaution against getting sick and not a political statement to be critiqued.
I sympathize with the mask fatigue, because I feel it too. Every single time I walk up to a door and read the “mask required” sign and realise I need to trek back to Narnia (also known as the back parking lot) for the mask in my car door, I nearly lose my mind.
But I take the walk mentioned above to calm down and remind myself that the mask isn’t a shackle and is far from an infringement on my human rights.
So, I will try my best to remember to put my mask on before entering a building. I will continue to wear one in crowded places, and when I am not feeling well, I hope I can convince some of you to join me.