Mask up or pack up

Victoria Lendino, Contributing Writer

As most are aware, the return to school looks a little different this fall semester. After a summer filled with nationwide protests and various rights movements in the midst of a pandemic, students and faculty alike had to prepare for a change coming onto campus this August. From mandated face coverings to social distancing and frequent testing to a virtual convocation and the cancellation of Division I Patriot League sports, there is no doubt that this fall semester is unlike any other we have seen in history. Despite this, the campus is still alive, with many students finding a way to make the best of their time.


Life Back on Campus

From the Virtual Activities Fair held earlier this semester to the themed activity nights held in front of Uptown, there are plenty of ways to socialize and get involved at the University in a safe, responsible way during these uncertain times. 

One way in which students are encouraged to be active in a safe way is through the group fitness programs and fitness center reservations at the Kenneth Langone Athletics & Recreation Center (KLARC). Through the University’s App, students can easily reserve a time in either the fitness center or in various group exercise classes — ranging from cycling to barre and yoga, in addition to others. 

“I am very glad Bucknell has their recreational fitness facilities open,” Tori Casquarelli ’24, a frequent attendee of the spin classes, said. “Although it has definitely been a struggle with the mask in terms of heavy breathing during cardio, in the end it is worth it.” 

Additionally, the themed activity nights at Uptown have been a great way to meet new people in a fun, safe environment in which students converse in small, distanced groups. “The DIY night was very fun despite the fact that we had to social distance ourselves and wear masks,” Georgia Corbett ’24 said.“I enjoyed the activities and they were a great start to this semester.” 

Despite these successful adaptations of commonly-enjoyed activities at the University, some aspects of the fall semester at the University could not be replicated in a safe way. One of these activities is fall sports. Following the Patriot League’s decision to cancel its fall sports season, many eager athletes and fans were left disappointed. Matt Owusu ’24, a member of the University’s men’s soccer team, explained his dismay. “[I’m] disappointed the season this year is not happening, but excited to use this time to meet people outside of soccer in the school,” Owusu said.


The Most Effective Masks

Since the return of students to the University’s campus, there has been much discourse over the most effective type of mask when it comes to both protecting yourself and others. According to an article published by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), research completed at Duke University sheds scientific light on this topic. 

According to AARP’s article, below is the ranking of common masks and facial coverings in terms of effectiveness:

Listed as some of the most effective types of masks and face coverings are: 

  • Three-layer surgical masks;
  • Cotton polypropylene masks;
  • Two-layer polypropylene masks; and
  • Two-layer cotton masks, pleated style.

In contrast, some of the least effective shown in research studies include:

  • Gaiter neck fleeces;
  • Knitted masks; and
  • Double-layer bandanas.


Student Favorites

Whether it be in a classroom, a dormitory hall, Bertrand Library, on the Malesardi Quadrangle or at the KLARC, the University’s mandated mask policy makes wearing a mask inevitable. So, you may as well use this semester to find the most comfortable one for you. 

“My favorite mask is a gaiter,” Matt Raiff ’24 said. “It’s really easy to wear and you can easily pull it up and down.”

Matt Tollin ’24 referred to the University’s cotton as his favorites. “I just like the design of it and how comfortable it is,” Tollin said. 

On the other hand, Caroline Baranello ’24 prefers surgical masks because she believes they “offer the most protection from the coronavirus.” 

Overall, the opinion on the most comfortable mask throughout campus is split. Regardless of which one you believe claims the title of “The Most Comfortable Mask,” everyone should continue wearing one, and doing their part in stopping the spread of the virus as we continue our time on campus.

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