Masks will be part of classroom life for a long while. We'll adapt. We'll have to.

There are two disparate thoughts I want to try to pull together here: Masks were part of my classroom long before the pandemic. I'm located in Japan, and, as you noted, masks had become increasingly common since the SARS epidemic. It's been interesting to see how students and teachers have changed classroom procedures to deal with this. Nameplates on desks have become ubiquitous and I've noticed that some teachers are now asking students to add a small selfie-style photo to theirs; some teachers have even gone as far as setting up "public speaking booths" where the students can remove their masks behind a plexiglass shield so that their faces will be visible while making a speech. As I said, we'll adapt.

As for how we adapt...well, I think we need to look beyond our usual communities. (I don't mean to presume anything here. When I say "we," I mean, "I".) My university has had an influx of muslim students, many of whom wear hijab and a few of whom wear niqab, which makes me think that there is possibly a lot to learn from those communities about how to be "masked" in public. In a same-but-different fashion, what can we learn from the hearing and seeing impaired communities? What communication tools have they evolved for situations in which one person cannot see or hear well? It might be time to take a closer look at these and other communities as we try to adapt to our new reality.

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