Since the pandemic began in 2019, it has been made very clear how selfish people can be when it comes to preserving the health of those around them. It is evident that those who pushed against the health and safety guidelines before the mask mandate was lifted disregard the well-being of immunocompromised people.
Recently, the decision was made for Goucher to become mask-optional. But is this decision really for the best? Lifting the masking requirement after spring break last semester led to a spike in Covid cases on campus and resulted in the mandate being reinstated. As an immunocompromised student, it doesn’t feel like a very thoughtful decision.
While it is understandable why many people do not want to keep wearing masks all the time, it does not make it safe. This decision is especially impactful on those who wish to maintain social distancing but cannot in common spaces such as the dining hall and classrooms. Goucher is a private institution and may follow Covid guidelines that are more cautious than state and local decisions.
While there may be a few student members on the Goucher Covid Task Force, a larger survey of the community could have given a fuller picture of the preferences for guidelines, especially since masking is so politicized. This also could have given a larger window of time for students, faculty and staff to prepare.
This institution claims to uphold the idea of community as one of their core values, but this decision clearly wasn’t made with this value in mind. America’s decision to act as if the pandemic is over simply because they do not feel like taking the necessary precautions anymore does not lessen the risk. It is still possible to contract long Covid regardless of vaccination status.
As the weather cools and more people begin to spend time indoors, a new Covid surge is more than likely to hit campus, making masking more important. Just over a month ago, a new highly-contagious Covid variant, BQ.1 was discovered. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that BQ.1 has now grown to make up over 10% of new infections across the country.
With the new variant, weather changes, and community care in mind, please consider masking up. If you choose to not wear a mask, please try to maintain social distance from others. KN95 masks can be found across campus in various locations including, but not limited to, the Office of Student Engagement, Mary Fisher Dining, and the Office of Residential Life.
By Dom McKinney ’23