It had been one week since students first flooded back to campus, hopefully not carrying any deadly diseases with them.
The third floor of Elihu Burritt Library had quickly become my go-to quiet place to attend online classes. With my boyfriend at the other end of the table, the only other people within close proximity were two girls doing schoolwork at an adjacent table.
A mass email sent by Dr. Zulma Toro five days prior revealed that the number of Central students diagnosed with COVID-19 had increased. By August 27, 11 commuter students had tested positive.
“Failure to wear a face mask, maintain physical distancing and limit indoor gatherings to 25 people… may result in suspension or expulsion from the University,” the email threatened.
Though it was probably not the safest option to linger on campus when it wasn’t necessary, attending my virtual classes in the library beat doing them at home.
One upside to online classes is that you can get away with using your cell phone when you get bored.
While scrolling through Instagram Stories, one from the library’s page appeared.
“Blue Devils! You MUST wear masks at all times in the library,” the story read. “We will call the COVID-19 hotline to report repeat offenders.”
As if anyone would be dumb enough to take off their mask in a building full of “Keep Face Covered At All Rimes” signs.
But someone was that dumb. Correction: two someones.
Both of the girls at the adjacent table had their heads in their books and their masks pulled under their mouths.
My boyfriend checked his phone to see a screenshot of the Instagram Story and a message from me, telling him to look over at the next table.
We texted back and forth, making fun of and complaining about the girls.
The temptation to pipe up and say “do you mind if I ask why you’re not wearing your masks?” was strong.
And so was my temptation to tell a librarian, or the COVID-19 hotline, or any authority figure in sight. But my fear of confrontation was stronger. Glaring angrily at them every few seconds would have to suffice.
A janitor walked by wheeling his garbage can and cleaning supplies. My devilish smile was conveniently covered by my mask, which I was competent enough to be wearing. These girls were about to get what was coming to them.
Except they didn’t. Because they pulled their masks on when the janitor walked by and pulled them right back down when he walked away.
How do people get accepted into college when they are this stupid? Sure, you prevented an encounter with the janitor, but by not wearing your mask you invite an encounter with sickness. Labored breathing, chills, loss of taste or smell.
Or even death.
And even if the symptoms don’t affect you, the “invincible” young college student, imagine all of the people you could spread the virus to who will experience symptoms. That pool of potential exposed people only becomes bigger when you don’t wear your mask.
Keep your gosh darn masks on, idiots. We’re still in a pandemic.