By Matt Kyle | Staff Writer
Student reactions are mixed regarding Baylor’s decision to lift the campus-wide policy requiring face masks to be worn inside of classrooms and labs during instruction. Some students said they were excited to return to a sense of normalcy, while others said they were concerned about the possibility of COVID-19 continuing to spread.
Monday was the first day in a year and a half in which students were not required to wear masks in the classroom. The decision to rescind the policy was announced last Thursday in the Presidential Perspective, in which President Linda Livingstone said the decision was made based on Baylor’s high vaccination rate, new research about the effectiveness of cloth masks and the decreasing number of COVID-19 cases on campus.
Orange County, Calif., freshman Joe Romo said he was happy to hear the mandate was being lifted.
“Having the pandemic happen my senior year of high school, with everything online and then masks everywhere, it’s kind of nice to see that original feeling of what a school should be like,” Romo said. “I’ve been looking forward to the day they lifted it for a while.”
Dallas freshman Mason Collett said he is in favor of the mandate being lifted because students can interact with one another more easily and because students are no longer being forced to wear masks.
“No one wants to wear a mask,” Collet said. “It’s nice to be able to look around and see other people and not have half our face hidden. It’s easier to breathe, easier to talk, easier to interact with others. We have free will to put it on if we need it, and if you don’t want it, then you have the will to not put it on.”
Thousand Oaks, Calif., freshman Joshua Soto said he is also in favor of getting rid of the mandate, but he is concerned about students being stigmatized for wearing a mask.
“When they announced [the mandate being lifted] in my classes, someone expressed concern and then everybody was kind of murmuring or laughing,” Soto said. “I’m all for getting rid of [the mandate]. I just don’t like the stigma around people who still want to wear masks. I think it should be if you don’t want to, then just don’t.”
Pittsburgh senior Hannah Chrisman said she is concerned about the mandate being lifted before spring break, as traveling students could contribute to an increase in cases.
“With spring break happening soon and people flying home and coming back, we’re not going to be able to regulate that again afterward,” Chrisman said. “There’s still so many different variants happening. I just feel like there is going to be an increase.”
Austin junior Tanish Singh said he understands fatigue regarding mask wearing but that Baylor needs to protect immunocompromised students. He also said he believes lifting the mask mandate compromises Baylor’s core convictions.
“We’re completely forgetting about the immunocompromised,” Singh said. “At the end of the day, we can’t see with any amount of certainty how the virus will affect an individual person. The least we can do is wear a mask. Baylor values excellence, is what they say. I feel like we wouldn’t be doing excellence as human beings, especially in the Christian sense. As far as I understand Christianity, it’s about loving each other and trying to be like Jesus. And honestly, I feel like Jesus would look at those who are not able to protect themselves and do everything in his power to try to protect them.”