Normalcy Returns on Campus After the Mask Mandate was Lifted


By Alexandra Schueller

 The mask mandate lift is a new experience for us all. Two years of uncertainty: shutdowns and lockdowns, online school, changing regulations. The question of ‘will anything ever go back to normal?’ never left our heads. However, the world is currently in the process of returning to a more adapted version of the life we had before 2020. 

California lifted its mask mandate in schools on March 11th, going from “required” to “strongly recommended.” The change came after positive health data of COVID-19 cases were unfolded and hospitalizations from the virus declined.

The first day back to school without the mask mandate was on Monday, March 14th, lifted almost directly two years after our school closed due to the pandemic on March 13th, 2020. For the San Marcos High School community, the day was hugely significant, with a marked change in the routine for both staff and students after following constant rules and regulations for two years.

“Gosh, now that we are back at school, I am just so thankful. I didn’t really think about wearing masks as an issue, it was just something that I felt like we needed to do to have everybody back and that was my goal,” Assistant Principal Ryan Gallego said, expressing his gratitude that school is fully back.

For administrators and school officials, the challenge of how to open schools while still keeping everyone safe wasn’t easy. After having to figure out how to implement online school and open up partially with A and B days, administrators are delighted that school has returned to a normal routine. 

“As educators it was very stressful for us because we weren’t able to reach our kids as effectively as we always wanted to,” Gallego said. “I think what students learned from all this is perseverance. It wasn’t easy, but you know what, we’re back!”

A new way of teaching students also had to be adapted by teachers, moving from usual interactive lessons and group activities to figuring out how to accomplish the same effect online. Having students back in classrooms and the routine becoming more familiar, teachers can now instruct interactively again without limitations.

Jonathan St. John, an AP Literature and English teacher, explains what his experience was the day the mask mandate was lifted. “It was a little bit strange, it actually felt like the first day of school all over again. On the whole, I was excited to see it and it did feel weird, but it definitely felt new and different,” he said.  

The day was different for everyone, with teachers seeing some students’ full faces for the first time since the school year began. 

“I think it is all about the ability to adapt and to overcome. Doing school online, it was really difficult but we got through it. My hope is that what students have experienced will be of use to them to make them stronger,” St. John said, touching on what he wishes students take away from the pandemic. 

Adapting to changes isn’t new for students, adjusting and persevering through constant school changes and now the mask mandate lift as well. For many students, they felt a bit uncertain as to how the day would go.

“I think I was a little bit anxious that people would start giving attitude or making fun of each other for wearing a mask or for not wearing a mask,” Junior Emily Hamilton said, describing how she felt about the first day back without the mandate. 

For students and staff alike, regardless if one chooses to wear a mask or not, the most pivotal part is that everybody persevered for the last two years. Through the experience of facing an entire pandemic and adjusting to a whole new lifestyle, we’ve come to appreciate what we have and how far we have come, and that nothing should ever be taken for granted.