Montclair State University sent out an email to students on March 9 informing them that the mask mandate will remain in effect on campus until further notice, despite Gov. Phil Murphy lifting the statewide school mask mandate two days prior.
Other colleges and universities across the state of New Jersey, including The College of New Jersey, Seton Hall University, Rider University, Princeton University, Rowan University and several other schools, have already lifted their mask mandate for students, regardless of their vaccination status.
During the week of March 3, Montclair State recorded eight new coronavirus (COVID-19) cases, down from its early January peak of 168, when the omicron variant was running rampant.
The university announced that they are exploring a variety of options and recommendations and if there are any changes to the mask mandate, they will inform the community later in March.
Students shared a variety of perspectives about how they would feel if the mandate was lifted.
Kelsey Nyman, a junior computer science major, said enough is enough and Montclair State should lift the mandate.
“Even though we have gotten [used] to the idea of wearing masks everywhere we go, [that] doesn’t mean we don’t miss that face-to-face connection with our peers,” Nyman said.
Nyman said students are not getting the same college experience they deserve while the mask mandate is in place. She feels breaking this barrier could create a whole different academic and social experience at the university.
“Students have missed out on a lot during these tough times, from not being able to attend classes in person to not being able to properly hear the professor in classrooms,” Nyman said.
Courtney Hardy, a junior business administration major with a concentration in sports, events and tourism marketing, said she feels comfortable with the mandate being lifted and doesn’t understand why it hasn’t been lifted already.
“The rest of New Jersey raised the mandate so why do we still have to wear them?” Hardy said.
Hardy understands the concern and need for the masks, but feels the masks should be an option rather than it being mandatory.
“I understand that some people may not feel comfortable with the lifting, but I believe at this point and where we stand in the pandemic [it] should be a personal preference,” Hardy said.
On the other hand, Emmit Arlin, a sophomore English major, said he likes the idea of lifting the mandate, but because of the newer variant, he thinks the mandate should remain in effect for now.
“If the mask mandate was lifted, it would be convenient,” Arlin said. “However, with the new variant and many more issues, it is a bit concerning at the same time.”
Arlin said he is also concerned for himself and his peers’ health.
“While it would be nice for the mask mandate to be lifted, I still worry for the health and safety of my fellow students here at [Montclair State],” Arlin said.
Andrew Mees, the university spokesperson, did not have any additional updates to share with The Montclarion.