On Feb. 24, The Coronavirus Planning Team at Sacred Heart sent out a mass email detailing mask mandate changes on campus. In response to low numbers of positive cases on campus and in surrounding towns and cities, the university decided that the mandates can be updated, starting on March 1.
The Coronavirus Planning Team stated “At that time, you will no longer need to wear a mask indoors, except in the following places: Classrooms, student health services, labs and clinicals, varsity and club sports athletics training rooms, and shuttles.”
Similarly, Connecticut’s governor, Ned Lamont, has altered statewide mandates, leaving the mask mandates up to the local communities for schools, according to Connecticut Official State Website. These plans were effective starting on Feb. 28, with many other states following suit.
As the decision of whether to mandate masks in school was left up to the individual institutions, Sacred Heart University was one of many colleges to take advantage of this opportunity and modify their mask regulations.
“I’m glad to see Sacred Heart is taking steps to loosen mask regulations. I think it’s a step in the right direction, but with a topic as controversial as this it’s almost guaranteed that not everyone will be happy with the decision,” said junior Alyssa McNulty.
Other students say that walking around campus feels interesting due to loosened restrictions.
“It’s different being able to see people’s faces now in the dining halls, gyms, hallways, etc. Sometimes I forget that you are able to take it off because we have been wearing masks for so long,” said senior Abby Radwanski. “I think being able to see people’s faces now really changes the feeling on campus in a good way.”
On the other hand, with many people on both sides of the mask debate, will everyone respect each other’s decision to wear a mask or not to wear a mask?
“Personally, if I’m not required to, I won’t wear a mask because it does get annoying, but I won’t judge others for still wearing one. I don’t know who they live with or how they feel about the pandemic,” said junior Mike Courtney.
Some students have been shocked by the decision to loosen the mandate at this point in the semester.
“I’m very surprised by the timing of this update. I know my hometown and many surrounding towns just had winter break,” said sophomore Terrence Carey. “People were all over the place, flying and driving. With spring break coming up many kids are going to go home and there’s a possibility it could spread like wildfire again.”
Others comment on the possible distractions of masks.
“I feel that masks greatly affect a student’s learning. Having this piece of cloth on your face is not only annoying, but people are sensitive to sensory disruptions,” said senior Maggie Hope.
Many students have found it refreshing to be able to do everyday activities without a mask on.
“I go to the gym on campus every day and it’s much easier to workout without one on. I also play intramural basketball in the gym and it feels good to be able to be active with others without wearing a mask,” said senior Cory Hutchison.
Junior Brielle Furci said “Masks or no masks, the debate around it is like debating students’ mental health vs. their physical health and the likelihood of contracting COVID. They are trying to decide which ranks higher when the truth is that everything varies from person to person.”
Others say that they enjoy the ability to choose where they want to wear a mask.
“I like that Sacred Heart is leaving it up to the individual to make their decisions. If a person wants to wear a mask or doesn’t want to, their decisions should be respected,” said senior Sara Fagan. “It’s accommodating to all students’ personal choices for masks.”