With the number of positive COVID-19 cases on campus rising, following the rules to keep everyone safe needs to be a priority. 

Every rule Messiah has put in place this semester is important, including wearing masks. 

Many people around the world have all asked the same question amidst the current pandemic: do masks really work?

Students have wondered about the effectiveness of the cloth masks they wear around campus almost 24/7. The irritation and frustration that comes with mask wearing can cause many to question if they are actually slowing the spread of COVID-19.

Looking to medical experts during this confusing time is the best place to start. 

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends wearing masks as “a simple barrier to help prevent respiratory droplets from traveling into the air and onto other people when the person wearing the mask coughs, sneezes, talks or raises their voice.”

COVID-19 is most easily spread through respiratory droplets from the mouth or nose when individuals are within six feet of each other.

By covering your face and avoiding close contact, students can decrease their risk of getting sick and being quarantined in Smith apartments or at home.

The University of California San Francisco (UCSF) provided evidence on how wearing simple cloth masks can prevent the spreading of many viruses ranging from a common cold to COVID-19.

Many countries, such as China and Japan, commonly wear masks during any illness they have, not just COVID-19. Unlike those countries, it is not a common practice in America.

While the wearing of masks may not be the solution to preventing the spread of COVID-19, it is a start that almost everybody can participate in.

It is important to be aware that not all masks are made the same. Because of the popularity of masks worldwide, there are many confusing sources out there competing for people’s support and business.

Cloth masks are the most popular type of masks used, particularly on college campuses.

“Cloth face coverings are most likely to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus when they are widely used by people in public settings,” the Mayo Clinic stated in a recent article on masks during COVID-19.

Cloth masks with three layers of cotton or silk are proven to be more effective for blocking respiratory droplets and are most easily accessible. Students can reduce waste and support small businesses by choosing reusable cloth masks over one use disposable ones.

The CDC recommends a cloth mask over anything else. Bandanas, neck gaiters and face shields are not recommended or proven to be as effective. However, wearing any mask is better than wearing no mask. 

Whenever you are around others who do not live with you, mask wearing is the safest option around campus.

It is also important to remember that wearing one does not replace any of the other COVID-19 regulations in place. In order to ensure everyone’s safety, social distancing and increased sanitization are equally important.

Messiah University has proved the effectiveness of mask wearing by diligently following rules and successfully staying open for five weeks now.

With the relaxation of some rules and the threat of COVID-19 seemingly far away, it is important to not back down on the regulations put in place. 

Do not take this time on campus for granted or choose to accept it as a new normal because you never know what tomorrow may bring. 

Standing together and holding each other accountable in regards to mask wearing can make all the difference in whether we finish this semester strong and in person.