The University of Connecticut announced that masks will be required again for instructional settings, and in gatherings of 100 people or more for the remainder of the Spring 2022 semester.
Students and faculty were notified of this decision via an email that was sent out last Friday, April 15. The email explained that requiring masks was based on the rising COVID-19 positivity rates on campus as well as in the state of Connecticut. Currently, there are 95 positive cases on campus, accounting for 0.88% of the residential student population living on campus.
“The goal of this decision is to protect health on our campuses and to help ensure that the remaining weeks of the semester and UConn’s commencement ceremonies can be conducted in-person. A widespread outbreak that overwhelms university health services and available isolation space could potentially disrupt both,” an email from the Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Carl Lejuez and Dean of Students and Associate Vice President for Student Affairs Eleanor JB Daugherty said.
The email said the decision to require masks in certain settings is the result of a potential new wave of COVID-19. According to The New York Times, COVID-19 strain BA.2, a subvariant of Omicron, is causing infections to rise throughout the United States and will be bringing on another increase in positive cases.
Olivia Salazar, a fourth semester psychology major, began attending UConn during the fall 2020 semester, when classes were administered only online and masks were required everywhere on campus.
“I really hope it’s just for the rest of this semester,” Salazar said in a phone interview. “I wouldn’t want to be a senior having to graduate while wearing a mask. Hopefully with summer coming around, we’re not going to be here when there’s new waves and the warm weather with things mostly outdoors, it won’t have to revert back to the way it was, but I guess we’ll have to see the way things are in the fall.”
“I really hope it’s just for the rest of this semester. I wouldn’t want to be a senior having to graduate while wearing a mask. Hopefully with summer coming around, we’re not going to be here when there’s new waves and the warm weather with things mostly outdoors, it won’t have to revert back to the way it was, but I guess we’ll have to see the way things are in the fall.”Olivia Salazar, a fourth semester psychology major, via phone interview.
According to the email, the mandate has also been put in place to assure there will be a commencement ceremony at the end of the semester, saying that this would not be able to take place if the university becomes overwhelmed with COVID-19 cases.
Kaylee Fell, a fourth semester nursing major with a minor in human development and family sciences, believes if the university wanted to stop the spread of the virus, they would do more to ensure that masks are worn everywhere on campus, not just in classrooms and certain gatherings.
“I think that it probably won’t do that much because the mandate is only in classrooms and the last two weeks of the semester is probably the least amount of time that we’ll actually be in classrooms,” Fell said in an in-person interview. “We’re still allowed to not wear them anywhere else on campus so I think that if they wanted to stop the spread of COVID they probably should’ve reinstated it for the whole campus and not just places we are less likely to be.”
While UConn may be deciding to bring masks back to campus, mask mandates, they have been recently lifted in other areas of the United States. According to Delta Airlines, wearing a mask is now optional for both workers and travelers in airports and on flights.
“I’m honestly against the mandate because everywhere else it just got lifted, like in airports, on planes, in Ubers, and I understand that the rates are going up here but I really don’t think it’s that bad,” Salazar said.