Students adapt to communication challenges.

In the times of COVID-19, wearing a mask and temperature checks may be the least of some students’ worries. Sophomore Gabby Donica, for example, has noticed some new challenges arising in wake of the pandemic, including limited social interactions.

“I made a new friend in one of my classes, and when I saw him outside of school without a mask, I didn’t recognize him,” Donica said. “It freaked me out.”

Though masks may be crucial to stopping the spread of COVID-19 , wearing a thick piece of cloth over one’s mouth all day is a change that has caused various communication challenges.

“I have to yell, pretty much [to be understood],” Donica said. “I talk quietly anyway, so people really don’t understand me in general, let alone with a mask.”.

According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, “Masks muffle our speech and make it hard for listeners to identify what we’re saying.” Sophomore Paige Rice has experienced these difficulties firsthand.

“You definitely have to be more clear with the emotion you’re conveying because they can’t read your face,” Rice said.

Academics have also changed. Most affected are world language teachers, who need their students to learn correct pronunciation. Spanish teacher Marcia Cheek sympathizes with these issues.

“I feel like I’m muffled, so [students] are not hearing sounds correctly, or they’re not hearing words correctly,” Cheek said. “Also, I struggle to hear what students are saying.”

Despite these obstacles, Bull Dog resilience has come out in full force, and students have found many solutions.

“Keep [the mask] over your face and nose, but pull it a little away from your face,” Donica suggested.

Others offer ways to avoid confusion.

“Be clear in what you say, and make sure the emotion you’re conveying is clear,” Rice said.

Classrooms are changing as well.

“I do more Flipgird work where it’s individualized and you can go in the hallway to separate from everybody,” Cheek said. “I also have microphones to use if you’re presenting.” 

Although some students may find masks to be   inconvenient, Cheek finds that most students she has are wearing masks.

“I’m pleasantly surprised, I thought it would be a fight,” Cheek said. “In my classroom, I haven’t had one issue with not wanting to wear a face mask.” 

As for the masks themselves, certain materials are more conducive to understanding than others. Students can choose anything from the school issued cloth masks to scarves, so it might be helpful to find which type works best for you. 

“The standard medical masks are probably the best ones, comfort wise and [temperature] wise,” Cheek said. 

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