By Sarah Pinkerton | Staff Writer
After freshman students received gaiter face masks in their Line Camp packages , concerns about research on the effectiveness of these masks has emerged. They have since been banned from inside buildings on campus.
The university announced an official face covering policy on June 22, but revisions implemented Aug. 17 in response to new research restricted the use of gaiter-style masks to outdoor locations only. Regular, over-the-ear masks are to be worn inside all buildings on campus.
New and returning students are being given regular face masks in their Family First COVID-19 kits.
Dr. Sharra Hynes, associate vice president of student life and dean of students, said that the Family First kits were created to distribute to new and returning students throughout the first week of classes.
“If we’re expecting students to comply and wash their hands and wear a face covering, we felt it was important to give students the tools to be successful or at least give them the start of those tools,” Hynes said.
Lewisville freshman Miranda Lutterbei said that while she received a gaiter-style mask in her Baylor Line Camp package, she feels more comfortable wearing a normal mask.
“I’ve seen a couple guys wearing the Buff but I think it’s kind of gone around, people have heard that it’s less preventative against the virus and so I feel like that might be why a lot of people aren’t wearing it,” Lutterbei said.
Buff, a popular company selling gaiters, issued a statement in mid-August that stated that their product was not designed, nor clinically tested, for protection against the spread of the virus.
“They are not scientifically proven by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) to prevent you from: (1) contracting a virus/disease/illness or (2) passing a virus/disease/illness to someone else,” the statement said.
Lutterbei said that wearing a normal mask makes her confident that she’s not breathing in anything that she shouldn’t be.
“All my roommates have used normal masks,” Lutterbei said. “I really liked [the regular masks handed out by the university] because it fits well and I like the strap behind the ears. They’re adjustable which makes it easy to have it fit snugly on.”
In the Family First kit, students received two campus-friendly regular face masks, hand-sanitizer, a thermometer, a clear drawstring bag, a Baylor water bottle and coupons from local restaurants.
Rebecca Kennedy, assistant dean for spiritual life & missions, describes the masks in the kit as a tightly woven cotton material with adjustable ear straps and metal around the nose piece. She says that all students, faculty and staff will be receiving, or have already received, the same mask.
Family First kit pickup is located in Tent #1 by Moody Library. Students can show their negative test result to a worker, check into the system and receive a bag from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. until Friday.
Nursing school students in Dallas, George W. Truett Theological Seminary and School of Social Work students in Houston as well as students in the Army-Baylor University Doctoral Program in Physical Therapy in San Antonio will also be receiving this kit.
Kennedy said students who opted for all-online classes will be mailed their kits in a couple of weeks.
First-year students living on campus received their mask kit on move-in day. If they did self-move-in, they received it in their residence hall. If they did assisted-move-in, they picked it up from the Ferrell Center.
While students are encouraged to wear the branded BU face-masks, any face mask that wraps around the ears and covers the nose and mouth is appropriate for on-campus activities.
“We’re just hoping and praying everyone will practice safety measures and wear their mask and social distance and hopefully we’ll get through this,” Kennedy said.