Should campus still require masks?

During spring break last week, Minnesota State University, Mankato President Edward Inch announced in an email that masks would no longer be required on campus. The mask requirement was lifted yesterday, meaning anyone on campus or attending campus events do not have to wear a mask. 

This announcement follows a previous email stating that students who live in the dorms will no longer need to show proof of vaccination or go through weekly testing for COVID-19, which also began yesterday.

These decisions were made by the University after closely looking at both the city and county numbers for COVID-19 transmissions, with the numbers continuously decreasing. With the restrictions being lifted, it begins to bring a sense of “normalcy” back to campus, something we haven’t experienced in two years.

Even with the COVID-19 transmission rate dropping, it leaves questions of whether this was the right idea or not. Some things that need to be considered are the time of the announcements and the possible outcomes.

We as students need to take a moment and think about whether this decision will be beneficial for the campus community or if it’ll cause problems down the road.

With spring break happening last week, it raises the question as to why this decision was not held off until students return from their respective vacations. With the increased travel, there can be an increased risk of transmission, especially if masks are not enforced on campus. 

Instead of announcing the lifted restriction when everyone is away from campus, it might have been best to wait a week after spring break when all of the students are back. This would help the administration collect accurate transmission numbers when the campus community is back together rather than waiting for someone to show up.

In the event that the increased travel from students does increase transmissions in the area and a mask policy needs to be reinstated, the University will find it more difficult to enforce, as students will have become used to their “freedom”. 

Even before the restriction was lifted, students could be seen across campus wearing their mask incorrectly or not at all. If we are given the opportunity to go mask-free and then told later on in the semester we need them again, it’s possible even less people will follow this rule than before.

While the lifting of this policy is most likely the right decision when following the numbers, there is something to be said about timing. When it comes to keeping the campus community health, it seems that a week longer of masks would only have ensured that students remained safe after spring break.

(Maddie Behrens/The Reporter)

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