After nearly two years of wearing masks and social distancing, Montclair State University announced in an email on April 29 that face coverings will now become a personal choice around campus, starting on May 16. With exceptions for places such as the University Health Center, Center for Clinical Services and the Center for Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology.
One key detail that stood out in the email was how the administration asked the Montclair State community to show empathy for those who choose to continue to wear masks.
The new mandate brought a major concern: Will students and staff with disabilities and conditions that can be aggravated by coronavirus (COVID-19) be at risk? And if so, what does this mean for the general populace?
Panos Stavridis, a freshman undecided, sees the new mask policy as a significant concern for the health and safety of the immunocompromised population.
“I was a bit wary of it, especially knowing people who are immunocompromised already go through enough chronic pain that [is] not taken seriously enough,” Stavridis said. “I’m also angry because I’m seeing how truly selfish certain people can be when it comes to masks, they’re not willing to do their part in making sure everyone feels safe.”
Even though the new mandate will go into effect just in time for the summer semester, Isabella Pozo, a sophomore English major, says she plans on keeping her mask on during the fall academic term.
“I intend to keep wearing my mask, especially in the classroom,” Pozo said. “I just feel safer with it at this point. The most ethical approach I think would keep the mandate for wearing masks in the classroom at the very least.”
Jenny Asuzano, a freshman film and television major, shared her concerns and how the new rule has brought up a new challenge.
“This makes it harder for me to go to school and be comfortable because if I get sick, I will be putting my mother and nephew at risk,” Asuzano said. “A number of my friends have gotten sick already because of lax mask rules in certain areas, even before the mandate as a whole has been lifted.”