Community agrees, mask breaks are necessary

Sixth Formers Grayson Walker ’21 and Amari Campbell ’21 have a quality conversation during a safe mask break – Bernie Rogers ’21

Masks. One of the most frustrating and controversial parts of the coronavirus pandemic. Masks have made their way into everyday life, including the entirety of school days. Everyone knows the feeling of a damp mask after a long day of speaking and breathing heavily. Thankfully, the school has found a simple solution to this issue: mask breaks.

     Students show up to campus every day with the task of powering through three 90-minute classes. One thing that propels these students to finish each day is a small window during each class to take a mental break and remove their masks, giving them time to breathe freely and clear their heads.

     “I think it’s important to give a mask break for the mental break. I know as a teacher I need it just as much as my students,” math teacher Ms. Barb LaPenta said.

English teacher Thomas Stambaugh leads a mask break on a cold, windy day in early February – Nachikethan Srinivasan ’21

     Staying focused for an hour and a half during class is a difficult task. “Having a break helps you reset and makes it easier to resume class,” Fifth Former Will Morris said. 

     According to informED, students in the high school age range only have the capacity to listen for about 20 minutes. Mask breaks allow students to clear their heads and refocus to retain the information they are learning.

     “I think it’s more for the mental break. I’ve gotten used to wearing a mask for hours at a time now, so it’s more for an hour and a half class that feels like it’s been doing the same thing for a while,” Sixth Former Ben Fosnocht said.

Although masks have grown common for about a year now, and people are used to wearing masks on a daily basis for variable amounts of time, the refreshing feeling of taking them off is a sensation students never thought they would have to enjoy.

     “[Mask breaks] are not required, but this is a best practice. Some teachers have to determine whether it will fit in with how class is flowing. It is an acknowledgment that some students might need a break from the longer classes,” Upper School Head Mr. Fifer said.

Sixth Formers practice a mask break during long day of classes, October 22, 2020 – Bernie Rogers ’21

     School policy does not require the practice, but it is in the students’ and teachers’ best interest to perform them for many reasons. If class is getting off topic or students seem weary during long classes, a mask break is the perfect solution to get students back on track and in a positive mindset.

     “What I also really like about the mask breaks is the opportunity to foster connections with students,” Ms. LaPenta said.

Author: Jacob Stacey '21

Jacob Stacey ‘21 is a student in the journalism seminar. He is an avid reader of journalism pieces involving sports, politics, and other student opinions. Stacey works with the admissions office, giving tours to prospective students and families seeking to enroll at Haverford. Stacey is a member of the baseball team and does strength and conditioning with Coach Rosko in the offseason.