Emma Stoltzfus — Co-chief editor
The serious part
I originally wrote this article last semester as a humorous “how not to wear your mask” public service announcement for the Zircon. Sam (my co-chief editor) and I ended up pushing it to this year because we thought “please wear your mask properly” was a message people needed to hear in a serious context. The semester has barely started, but we were right about that.
Many of you probably saw the email chain that made the rounds on January 19. In it was a petition for the end of Dordt University’s various COVID-19 safety protocols. The chain began with a statement and petition from the College Republicans Club president—Tyler Bouma—to the engineering department and ended with the email being forwarded to 348 students around Dordt.
Bouma created the petition on a Google Sheets document, which allowed anybody with access to the link provided in the email to edit anonymously. This led to name-calling, memes, fake names and emails, and a fruitless debate. Complaints about mask-wearing and social-distancing featured heavily in the comments section.
At one point the spreadsheet hosted 90 anonymous users arguing back and forth. After several hours of this, Bouma locked the sheet from further edits and cleared the comments section and fake names.
I am disappointed. I’m disappointed in the toxic attitude shown by many Dordt students hiding behind anonymity. I’m disappointed in those who typed in their names to back the petition’s push for Dordt to drop its health and safety policies.
This year we have had the opportunity to attend classes and play sports in-person. Not a lot of schools in America can say the same. These measures are what allow Dordt University to stay open. If they are taken away, I sincerely doubt we would be able to stay open for long.
I wear a mask and social distance. I do it for my family. I do it for my friends. I do it for my professors. I do it for people I have never even met. I’m selfish and do it for myself because I have a list of lung-related health issues that could complicate a battle with COVID-19.
If wearing a mask and social distancing helps decrease the chance of my neighbor becoming ill or dying, I think it is well worth it. No, it is not fun. I don’t enjoy this “new normal” we’ve found ourselves in over the past year. I will continue being conscientious though because we are called as Christians to show love to our neighbor.
Without further ado: here is the original humorous “do’s and don’ts of mask-wearing.”
The funny part
Mask mandates are nothing new. Most states and organizations have established some form of policy on wearing masks in the past several months. Dordt University is no exception. This semester the students, faculty, and staff of the university have been required to wear masks when inside or in proximity to other people.
Despite the normalization of mask-wearing in the era of COVID-19, there is still an astonishing number of mask faux pas being committed. Here is your personal guide to wearing your mask correctly and effectively.
The most common mask mistake is the “sniffer.” This is when the wearer pulls the mask down to expose their nose. Some do so in order to breath unhindered through their nose, others are trying to take a sniff of something in the air. Regardless, it renders the mask largely useless as the wearer expels droplets and germs through their nose unobstructed.
Another fashion statement made with masks is letting them swing free in the wind by one ear. The “earwig” or “earring” method of wearing a mask does little to protect the wearer or those around them. While often worn for a few moments when the individual takes a swig of their coffee or other preferred beverage, the problem arises when the mask stays on one ear for longer periods of time. Masks should either be linked over both ears or tied around the back of the head. The Earwig method is overly casual and does not meet the benchmarks for proper mask-wearing.
The “cheeky chin” is the cousin of the “sniffer.” Instead of the top edge of the mask rolling down to reveal the nose, the bottom is pushed up to show the chin. Without the support to hold the mask in place, the slightest movement of the jaw causes the mouth and chin to peek out from under the mask. Like its cousin, the “cheeky chin” does a mediocre job of offering protection.
The “stache” is rarely seen due to its less-than-ideal level of comfort. Some masks render it impossible depending on the type of material and thickness. This faux pas is achieved by squishing the mask into a tightly drawn strip across the upper lip. The mouth and nose are left uncovered, and the whole ensemble gives the appearance of a mustache—hence the name.
Finally: the “neckbeard.” This fashion disaster is when the mask has been completely stretched past the chin and sits on the underside of the jaw. The wearer’s face is completely bare, but their neck is now pointlessly covered. Like the “earwig,” this mask-wearing method leaves the face bare.
After that tour of all the ways not to wear a mask, the final stop is the correct mask-wearing technique. As the Mandalorian often responds to questions about his own protective armor: “this is the way.” For the die-hard fans groaning at the narrow definition of Mandalore culture, this is of course referring to the mask-wearing tenets displayed in season one of America’s new favorite Star Wars media by Din Djarin. With the “Mandalorian method,” the mask should cover the wearer’s face from the middle of the nose to the underside of the chin. It does not gap at the sides or bottom and always stays on when interacting with others, especially indoors. Be like the Mandalorian: wear your mask, protect others, and don’t commit a mask faux pas.