Westminster implements Maskless Mondays to ease transition into each week


Returning from a weekend of sports, performances, and a Sunday night stressing over unfinished assignments, Mondays are always a difficult way to return to the school week. In an effort to release some of this stress and tension, Westminster has begun Maskless Mondays.

“Mondays suck, and we know that,” said Upper School dean of students Brooks Batcheller. “After hard weekends of studying, playing sports, and doing all the amazing things our students do, sulking around in masks and worrying about COVID-19 only added fuel to the fire which was stress. To try to relieve some of this stress on students, in conjunction with the administration, we’ve started Maskless Mondays.”

Maskless Mondays went into effect on Jan. 13, after COVID numbers started to spike in the United States. With the spike in COVID cases, the administration deemed the change a “complete necessity” and introduced Maskless Mondays the following Monday. Some faculty members were unsure about the change, but with overwhelming student support, they remain in the minority.

“Once the administration introduced them, we pushed hard for Maskless Monday,” said junior Sophia Rackliffe. “The majority of administrators were in support of the change, but a few of those weird old school teachers wanted to stay with the week-long mask idea.”

These “weird old school” teachers were outnumbered when it came to voting on whether or not to implement Maskless Mondays, but they are still passionate about the idea.

“How?” asked a teacher who chose to remain anonymous for his own safety. “How is this even legal? The moment cases start to rise, do we suddenly decide to stop wearing masks? What? Who runs this crazy school?”

It seems this change was apparently legal, and this “crazy school” is run by none other than Westminster president Keith Evans. When asked about Maskless Mondays, Evans had nothing but praise for the idea.

“Maskless Mondays have been a massive success,” said Evans. “Positive results from our COVID tests have risen a mere 450 percent, but according to students, their stress levels have dropped a whopping 37 percent. No other school nationwide has had stress numbers among students this low in years.”

While Maskless Mondays may have seemed to be reducing stress, like certain teachers, members of the student body reached out to express concern as well.

“First off, those stress statistics are sketchy,” said sophomore Zeke Harpe. “President Evans sent the survey for our stress levels as an email during advisement. Everybody knows nobody fills those out; I didn’t open the email until a week later. Apparently, a few people completed the survey and their stress levels went down, but I definitely don’t feel that way.”

Despite Zeke’s discontent, students looked happy on Mondays. I interviewed two students standing with Evans on Spatio.

“Maskless Mondays are lit, bro,” said senior Aydin Bandukwala.

“Sheeeeeesh man it’s fye to finally get a break from this whole COVID thing and just relax without masks once a week,” said senior Andrew Mao.

After Evans walked away to tell more people about the lowered stress levels, the seniors’ attitudes changed.

“I’m worried for my life bro,” said Bandukwala. “I’ve had asthma for a while, and a respiratory disease like COVID had me contemplating whether or not to even come to school at the beginning of the year. Now, with Maskless Mondays, everyone is at much higher risk of disease, and I just don’t feel safe anymore.”

“I’m not even sure anymore. I feel more connected to my senior class now, and we get to hang out maskless and everything on Mondays, but at what cost?” said Mao.

Opposed to the administration and Batcheller’s good intentions and Evans’s praise, Maskless Mondays appear to be stressing students out more than before. Backing Harpe, Bandukwala, and Mao’s sentiments, more and more students reached out to share their discontent with Maskless Mondays.

“I hate it,” said freshman Ryan Sager. “I tried to put my mask on last week on Monday, but Mr. Batcheller and Mr. Evans cornered me and made me take it off. They told me if they caught me with a mask on Mondays again, I’d have detention. I don’t love masks, but I just want to stay safe.”

Every once in a while I would see a student actually enjoying themselves on Maskless Mondays, but for the large majority of students, it seemed to merely be a façade. Even Rackliffe who had earlier expressed praise of Maskless Mondays admitted she was more stressed out now than ever before.

“I was bribed to say what I said before,” said Rackliffe. “Sure it sucks to always wear a mask, but I am fine with being a little bit annoyed by masks. I want to stay safe. I just want to go back to how it was.”