Masks are Optional After Two Years of Mandate

Angelica Gonzalez ’22 (left), Mitchell Baker ’25, and other journalism students ceremoniously throw away their masks upon hearing news of Northwood going mask-optional (Photo: Mr. John Spear).

For the first time since March of 2020, we can see each other’s faces at Northwood School.

On March 2nd, the mask mandate will no longer be a rule. Students and teachers will not be required to wear a mask. This is a significant day for the Northwood community, the last time students could go with masks was when the school sent everyone home at the start of the pandemic two years ago this month.

Mr. John Spear, Assistant Head for School Life, wrote in a message to the school community, “The CDC and New York State Department of Health have each changed their guidance on indoor masking in schools. Beginning tomorrow, Wednesday, March 2, students, employees, and visitors will no longer be required to wear a mask when indoors at Northwood School.”

Students are excited to get rid of the mask mandate. Sachiel Ming ‘24 said, “I am new this year, so I have never experienced a mask-free Northwood. I am tremendously excited to continue learning without a mask, it has been so annoying and uncomfortable wearing a mask.”

Ming thinks removing masks will bring the community closer together. “I feel without a mask students can interact with each other much easier.”

Although the mask mandate has been lifted, there are still a few rare occasions where students and staff must wear masks. “On the shuttle bus to the Hub and in a limited number of classroom settings. Students have been notified if they are regularly in those settings,” wrote Spear. “Another situation where a mask is required in school is when someone returns from the recently shortened five-day isolation after a positive test; recently recovered students are permitted to return to school on day six, but they must wear a mask on days six through ten,” he added.

It is also important that students know that wearing a mask is optional, not forbidden. If you are feeling sick or don’t feel comfortable without a mask, you should wear a mask.

Spear noted that the CDC and the New York health department allowed us to be mask free due to numerous factors, including:
> a decrease in positive cases
> continuous and sustained downward trend of cases
> 7-day average of positivity going down
> 7-day average cases children 5-18 are at the lowest point since the re-surge of cases
> hospitalizations have trended downward
> pediatric hospitalizations are low
> community immunity and vaccination rates continue to increase.

Spear warned that we may not have seen the last of masks at Northwood. “t’s important to remind everyone that if these metrics trend in the other direction,” he said, “the CDC or the NYS Health Department may revise guidance to again require masks or a future outbreak on campus may warrant requiring masks again.”


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