University community adjusts to loosened mask policies

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Photo courtesy of Mia Adduci

Students work in the Bergami Center after mask mandate lifts,West Haven, March 27, 2022.

Mia Adduci, Student Life Editor

As the university community moves into the second half of the semester, staff and students have recently returned from Spring Break to welcome an optional mask policy introduced by the COVID Task Force. While some students have elected to unveil their full faces, others continue to wear their masks, such as that n95 mask.

In some departments at the university, suggestions to maintain face coverings have been made evident. For those in course BIOL 1123, a notice was delivered with the statement that instructors of the course “are asking all students to please continue to wear your masks to lab this week.”

The message continues, “In addition, the length of the lab and our need to work together, increase chances of contagion. We can’t require you to wear a mask, but if most of us do it will provide a good measure of protection. We will revisit this mask request again next week.”

Kate Miller, professor and course coordinator for BIOL 1121/1123, spoke on the new mask policy and the approach taken for the lab.

In clarification that the mask retention was a request and in no way a mandate, she provided insight on the reasoning for the request, saying, “Our labs are nearly three hours, and students work together in teams. Some students and instructors expressed some discomfort about returning from Spring Break and being in lab without masks. Our request for masks was intended to make everyone feel as comfortable as possible, while following the University’s guidelines about voluntary masking.”

“As Coordinator part of my responsibilities include making decisions about safety and comfort, such as implementing and complying with various Covid policies these past two years, providing and requiring certain safety equipment, and responding to student and instructor concerns, while delivering quality content,” she said. “Our request was polite and assured them that masking is voluntary. Our main focus in lab is to facilitate hands-on exploration of biological principles, and this request hasn’t affected our service to students or, to my knowledge, their experience of the lab activities.”

Across the student population in the week returning to campus, an array of students can be found both masked and maskless, with some varying from day-to-day.

Julian Thomas, senior marine biology major, spoke on their experiences since returning to campus this past week. “I see less people wearing masks since break ended, especially my friends who said they’d continue to wear them seemed to have given up,” they said.

In terms of personal experience, Thomas spoke on their decision to go maskless most of the time, and said, “A lot of that comes from the fact that I’m tired of wearing masks at this point, and everyone is vaccinated.”

“Without a mask I feel as if I’m presenting myself more organically and that’s better for me,” they continued.

In terms of their personal concerns regarding the new mask policy, Thomas said “I do have some worry among those unvaccinated folk who spread without knowing.”