Over your nose, please

Over your nose, please

It makes me supremely uncomfortable to see people’s noses. Not in general, of course, I haven’t suddenly become a nose-hater, but when I’m at school and someone’s mask is supposed to be covering their nose, seeing their nose becomes more than just a nose. It becomes a sign of disrespect, recklessness, and a general disregard for the safety of others. I know that sometimes it’s hard to get your mask to stay over your nose and that occasionally it might slide down and you need to pull it up. That’s not what I’m talking about.

How not to wear your mask.

I’m talking about the people who walk through the halls with their masks pulled down to their chins. The people who spend all of class with their mask sitting under their nose (for several classes in a row) and just seem not to care. The people who I see, day after day, with their masks down and their noses naked.

As was pointed out in our article on returning to in-person learning, it’s very important to wear your mask correctly for it to be effective. In fact, wearing your mask under your nose is useless. The majority of virus particles come out of your nose, not your mouth, according to the Huffington Post. If you have your mask under your nose, then, it means that you’re effectively not wearing a mask at all. And what are you doing then? Spreading COVID. Even if you’re fully vaccinated, there’s a chance that you can catch COVID and spread it. (CDC)

We do not want to spread COVID. We do not want to spread it to our classmates with elderly grandparents, young siblings who can’t get vaccinated, and parents with immunodeficiencies. We do not want to be stuck at home quarantining instead of at school. We do not want to be stuck in this pandemic any longer. And how can we get out of the pandemic? By wearing our masks over! our! noses!

It’s not hard to wear your mask correctly. It’s a small thing that has a big impact. We all just need to work together to wear our masks correctly (and practice other preventative behaviors, like washing our hands, staying home when we’re sick, and getting vaccinated). We can get through this if we all just take this small action to care about other people.

If you are a person who genuinely wants to wear your mask correctly, but has trouble getting it to stay, here are some tips for you:

  • If your ear loops are too long, tie a knot in them to make them shorter. Don’t cross them over, this can create a gap in the sides of the mask where the air will escape.
  • If you’re wearing a basic surgical mask, it should have a bendy bit at the top. Bend it to curve around your nose. Also, make sure to take advantage of those creases and let the mask curve around your nose and chin.
  • If you’re wearing a cloth mask, see if you can sew a nose wire at the top or buy a nose clip to attach. This can just be an unbent paper clip or piece of wire, and it serves the same purpose as the bendy bit at the top of a surgical mask.
  • If possible, wear a higher-quality mask like a KN95. These masks generally fit better than simpler masks, and are more effective, though they’re also harder to come by.

If you are a person who just doesn’t care, I don’t know what I can say to make you care. I don’t know how to convince you that you should care about other people. Maybe I can’t. What I can do is respectfully ask that teachers do a better job of enforcing over-the-nose mask-wearing. I know that sometimes they don’t see the naked noses, like during passing, but I also know that there are students wearing their masks under their noses during class, and I’ve seen teachers look them in their faces and say nothing. Please call them out. It’s easier for you than it would be for me, and students are more likely to listen to someone in a position of authority.

With the recent surge in cases at our school and worldwide, and the spread of the Omicron variant, it is increasingly important to wear your mask correctly and to wear a high-quality mask. Public health officials recommend that you wear an N95, KN95, or KF94 mask, or if that’s not possible, at least a well-fitting surgical mask. (Seattle Times)

See also: https://youtu.be/WlcHFsciXfg