Masking Mandate: Mandatory or Optional?

Two students sit socially distanced wearing masks in closed environment settings as per policy and rules based on Quincy universities newest rendition of mask mandates and policies

On Feb. 25, 2022, Quincy University president Brian McGee sent out an email to all the students and faculty staff of the university. The email included general information and a university specific update on the requirements for mask mandates, COVID-19 testing, and vaccinations. 

Highlighting what exactly it was that went into effect the Monday, Feb. 28th, based on the information sent out in this email was that all students, faculty and staff should carry masks at all times while on campus. 

This message suggested that individuals have to be in the possession of a mask but not on at all times. This was a significant change from the university’s previous masking mandates. 

Close fitting cloth or disposable masks should be used at all times in indoor classrooms, laboratories, and other indoor learning spaces. However, exceptions can made by the Vice President of academic affairs or the Vice President for student development. 

Mask use in all other campus buildings and spaces is optional. All in all, what this mask mandate update provides is to give students the option of wearing masks when they are walking around in campus buildings, the cafeteria or wherever it may be rather than forcing students to wear one in these situations. This is an important step as the nature of the coronavirus pandemic changes and society strives to move forward.

Now, almost a month after the mandate has been adjusted, the changes to the way people approach the virus and masking mandate has shifted. 

The one thing that didn’t change based on this update was the usage of masks in classroom settings, or did it?

Classroom Photo
Classroom setting after updated mandate

Student Ryan Riggs would argue that while it didn’t make a change “on paper”, the results of the mandate being adjusted are now certainly showing. 

“In comparison to previous semesters where teachers and staff of QU actually enforced the mandate, it seems they have become more lenient or kind of more hesitant to enforce the mandate even though they aren’t supposed to based on the information that was given to us in the update email from McGee,” Riggs said.

“I won’t say this is directly attributed to the professors personal beliefs on the virus as a whole but I do believe it factors into it now that there is literally one setting around campus where you can see masks sometimes being worn, and that’s in classrooms,” Riggs added. 

Are students taking advantage of the less strict and particular set of rules based around the virus? Or is the light at the end of the tunnel with the whole pandemic finally visible? It is interesting to think about what has and will continue to contribute to this situation. 

Student Zack Springborn shared his opinions on the updated mandates and policies that were newly enforced. 

“Overall, it’s now nice to see peoples faces in a public setting which is something we haven’t been able to do in freaking forever it feels like! Also I feel that much didn’t change in the whole protocol and mandating process of how the university views the pandemic, but I think people  will more be able to see people’s views changing on the situation as they begin to see the virus coming to an end sort of hopefully here in the near future,” Springborn said. 

Sharing his thoughts and opinions on the mandates as well as what he would do if he were in power to autoritate a mandate which affects people’s lives was student Jayme Brain. 

“Considering that there is no enforcement of the mask mandate in classrooms, I will say that it’s worthless because outside of maybe one person that wants to wear a mask for whatever their personal reason may be, no one else is. The university still seems to require them based on posters and signs placed around campus, but even my teachers don’t seem to care,” Brain said. “If I was to make a rule or put a mandate into effect, I would actually enforce it. Instead of choosing to not enforce it but have the mandate still be in effect.” 

In the end, the new mandates for Quincy University have provided leniency towards the usage of masks and left the decision in the hands students to decide whether to mask up or not. 

Whether the university gave the students too much wiggle room in the mask mandating situation will be seen in time as mandates and the COVID-19 situation continue to evolve and devolve at the same time.

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