Wearing Your Mask to Care for Others

Wearing Your Mask to Care for Others

Illustration by Victoria Cimerman

Bethany Spitzmiller, Managing Editor

“At this point in the pandemic, wearing a mask is a sign of mutual respect. It isn’t just for personal safety, it’s for the safety of others.””

— Bethany Spitzmiller

Essential workers — many of whom are students — are still working, and they are tired and underappreciated. This exhaustion comes from carrying the weight of others’ irresponsibility and facing the brunt of the public’s anger over policies they didn’t decide.

Many individuals go about their lives unencumbered with any feeling of social responsibility, and then they feel justified in their carelessness. At this point in the pandemic, wearing a mask is a sign of mutual respect. It isn’t just for personal safety, it’s for the safety of others. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “To reduce the spread of COVID-19, [they] recommend that people wear masks in public settings when around people outside of their household, especially when other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.”

Additionally, according to the University of Central Missouri’s website, “Wearing face coverings, consistent with Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines … is required in classrooms; inside buildings open to the public and in common areas of all buildings on campus; at group events, gatherings and meetings; and in all areas of campus, including outdoors, where physical distancing is not possible.”

Many students and faculty find it difficult to wear a mask for long periods of time. However, essential workers wear a mask for almost eight hours every day, a few minutes here and there shouldn’t be the end of the world for anyone, whether that be students, professors, faculty or staff — taking exceptions for medical restrictions, of course.

While home for the summer, I was working at Schnucks, a grocery store based around St. Louis, where I did what I’ve affectionately called “the Corona jobs.” I was sanitizing carts, taking employees’ temperatures and “queuing,” which was telling people which checker’s lane they could go to once it had been sanitized.

They were miserable jobs but not because of the work. Cleaning and taking temperatures is easy, but dealing with the frustrated people was continuously discouraging. Essential workers have to carefully navigate a new world, and as they are bearing a collective burden, they see those efforts devalued by those who pretend their carelessness is justified. Remembering that the people working in retail are real people, who didn’t come up with the regulations, is so important. If a person disagrees with new rules, they need to contact those making them.

I’m not saying every Corona job is important, but the people doing those jobs are still human beings deserving of respect. Many people are putting in extra time and effort to keep others safe, and they aren’t receiving much, if any, additional compensation.

I want to say thank you to those workers who continue to keep our environment clean in an effort to keep everyone safe. I know it is tiring, but the work you are doing is so important. I want to thank the university cleaning staff for continuing to keep students and other employees safe. I want you to know we care and are appreciative of everything you’ve been doing for us.