Masks of different colors and patterns. Face masks and coverings are required on Stony Brook University’s campus when in direct contact with others. SARA RUBERG/THE STATESMAN

Stony Brook University welcomed all students back to campus on Aug. 24. 

The school outlined its plan to bring students back to campus in a safe and effective manner. For one, there are new social distancing markings all over campus. Green dots are littered across desks to make it clear exactly where students should, and should not, sit. In some buildings, only two people are allowed in an elevator at once. Even the capacity for campus busses has been reducedAll of these changes are necessary steps to ensure safety for not only students, but for faculty and staff as well.

What could be possibly the biggest change in place of all, is the requirement to wear a face mask.

Stony Brook’s mask policy is in direct accordance with the Center for Disease Control and the New York State Governor’s Executive Order. “Everyone on campus in direct contact with members of the campus community or the general public must wear a face covering and/or mask,” the school’s outline reads.

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All students, both commuters and those who reside on campus should receive two washable masks from the University. The set of masks are black and white with red lettering, and “#StonyBrook Strong” is displayed across the front. 

For some people, masks are an additional part of their appearance that they must worry about. But for senior Health Science major Joie Carelus, wearing a mask is the smallest step a student can take.

“Having that mask is a way to feel protected,” Carelus explained. 

Even with all of the measures that the school has put in place, it is up to the students to actually abide by the new regulations. An extensive cleaning protocol for staff to follow after a suspected infection is important, but in order to avoid getting to that point to begin with, everyone must abide by the mask protocol.

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Carelus understands the need for these rules. Masks are already an important part of her daily routine.

“When I want to go out it consists of me getting dressed, but then there’s the new addition of me grabbing a mask,” Carelus said. “It’s part of my wardrobe. You can’t go anywhere without a mask.”

And the functionality of your mask is key. If a lot of air is escaping from gaps in your mask, there is little to no protection from the virus. Carelus finds that her Stony Brook mask is one of the most effective. Carelus said she does not want to give the school too much credit so soon, but recognizes how well the masks work.

“You can tell they put money into it, which is really great,” she said. “They definitely care about the students by doing that.” 

Ximena Carter, a junior health science major, also finds the Stony Brook garments impressive.

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“The masks Stony Brook gave us are washable so that’s good for the environment,” she said.

Carter, like most, cares about looking presentable when going to class. But so far, she has yet to feel like masks have restrained her ability to express herself through fashion.

“It’s there to protect you — it’s not really about how it looks,” Carter said.  

But for those who do care about how a mask may look, luxury brands have you covered. Carter noted that “all these big name brands are making masks now, but they’re crazy expensive.”

Off-White has nine face masks listed on their website, each for $105. Seven of them are currently sold out. But on the other end of the luxury mask spectrum is Tory Burch’s $35 mask. For the price, consumers receive a pack of five.

Carter finds the luxury aspect silly. “They just want the money, because they just want people to buy their stuff. It’s just about them making a profit off of us,” she said. 

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Clear face masks are also all the rave, but not because they are easy to style. Those with autism and hearing impairments are just a fraction of people who rely on lip reading or visual cues from others in order to communicate effectively. ClearMask is one company that has rolled out a collection of transparent face coverings. 

Carelus is a big fan. As someone who can communicate through sign language, she knows that the visual component of communication is integral in understanding each other. “Facial expression gives everything away,” Carelus explains. 

In a time where appearance is everything, face mask requirements are an adaptation that we all must become accustomed to. Carter can not imagine a world where the design of a mask changes someone’s decision to put one on. 

“I would hope it doesn’t influence anyone,” Carter said. 

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