Living with the pandemic means living without masks, once and for all


Courtesy/James Lacefield

PSA: Always burn your despicable masks in a controlled and well ventilated area

James Lacefield, Opinion Editor

As we approach the dawn of our third year with the despicable virus, I have noted various news articles, talk shows, even social media posts, shifting away from the idea of beating the pandemic once and for all, and toward a position supporting adapting our lives to coexist with this microscopic intruder. While this may seem like giving up, there is really no other option when it comes to post-pandemic life. We still live, for example, with the threat of various strains of influenza; we are just fortunate enough to live in an age where medical science has provided incredibly effective treatments for this infection, preventing an outbreak on the same scale as the one which ravaged the globe a century ago. There are, however, compromises which are made even in lieu of this viral threat.

Living in a bubble of soap, disinfectant, and face coverings, while incredibly safe, is also exceedingly impractical. Pre-COVID, we washed our hands when we could, oftentimes received a preventative vaccination, and maintained relatively clean homes. People still came down with a case of the flu. Now, we insist on constant hand washing, incessant rounds of vaccination, continuous disinfection, as well as the shrouding of our very humanity. Yet people still test positive for COVID-19. As the latest variants have shown, however, the virus is far less lethal, and has far fewer negative effects on the health of infected individuals, regardless of vaccination status, (though it must be said that those who are vaccinated experience even milder symptoms than those without vaccination). So why can’t we move on and live with this virus just as we lived with the flu for the previous century?

The problems, clearly, are control and fear. As long as we give those in power more control over our lives, the less they are willing to give up said control. Similarly, the longer those in power have that overarching command of our lives, the more fearful common citizens become of the threatening pandemic. Thus, the more willing we are to give up our sovereignty. Unfortunately, this moral plague has followed the viral one onto our own campus. Students and staff, fearful of what the pandemic would mean for our own health and safety, have allowed the administration of Saint Anselm College to go too far in their leadership.

We have now regressed to requiring masks in all indoor spaces. Health Services itself has gone so far as to disregard the instructions of the Centers for Disease Control (the very governmental organization we have been told time and again to listen to regardless of our better judgement) by directing students to isolate for 10 days after testing positive for COVID-19 rather than the CDC’s recommended 5 days for asymptomatic individuals.

So, when facing the question why aren’t we moving on, the answer lies only with our leadership. We are all ready to move on. Most of us do not follow the campus mask mandates within our dormitories or other common spaces, and many resent being forced to cover their immunized faces while in class.

As an educational institution, Saint Anselm College needs to prepare students for the future, which includes life with COVID. The world is ready to move on, with or without us, yet we are trapped in a masked bubble of irrationality. The only way to advance in our academics and careers is to advance our perspectives on the pandemic. Our lives are no longer at any more risk than we assume in crossing the street or getting into an elevator; yet our moral, political, and spiritual freedom is under grave threat. As a genuine plea to the administration, it is time to give us our classrooms, our lives, our futures, and our faces back.