Masks ‘a rare sight’ now on UVM campus, but some students still wish they were mandatory

By Brooke Burns and Brin Huseby | Community News Service

BURLINGTON, Vt. — A few weeks into UVM’s lifting of its mask mandate, people seem hesitant to stop wearing their face coverings and are concerned about an uptick in cases.

“I think it was lifted a tad bit early,” said Maddie Henson, chair of the student government’s committee on action and well-being. “I think we could’ve waited until the end of the semester and then lifted it in the fall.”

There appears to be a consensus of caution about the policy change on and off campus. UVM had required people to wear masks indoors for more than a year as a way to mitigate the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic. Now that the mandate is gone, folks are worried whether the decision could spur more cases.

Some argue that the decision was poorly timed, like Addie Robinson, chair of the student government’s public relations committee.

Wikimedia Commons/AlexiusHoratius

A few weeks into UVM’s lifting of its mask mandate, some people seem hesitant to stop wearing their face coverings. Others are excited to feel less burdened by the pandemic.

“I wish they had waited another week after spring break and maybe reinstituted mandatory testing for a week before and a week,” she said. The university has not had mandatory testing since last school year.

Malia Hodges, a sophomore who got Covid the week the mandate was lifted, agrees that the policy change should have waited until next year.

“I think that the sacrifice to wear masks for the rest of the semester and avoid any spike at all would have been doable and probably the better option,” Hodges said.

Freshman Morgan Fletcher pointed to the frustration some feel about folks having to be in close proximity to each other, “breathing hard with no masks.”

“And there’s no requirement that we keep each other safe,” Fletcher continued. People seem weary that it may now be much easier for others to get them sick.

Burlington City Councilor Zoraya Hightower and Robinson both noted that the university’s decision seems unfair to certain members of the community. Those who are immunocompromised do not have the option to not show up to class or work if they are concerned about the virus.

“It’s one thing to be in small office where everyone agrees to remove the mandate, but to remove it for classrooms where folks wants to be for their education — UVM isn’t a bar or a restaurant — it seems unnecessary and unkind,” said Hightower, who called continuing to wear masks an act of compassion.

Robinson agreed, calling it a “lose-lose situation.”

“I am incredibly nervous about what this means for students, faculty and staff who are immuno-compromised, have regular contact with those that are, have young children at home or cannot afford to lose time at work,” she said.

Not all folks are concerned or skeptical. State Rep. Stephanie Jerome from Brandon believes UVM has been paying close attention to the data. “I feel confident about that,” she said about UVM’s process. UVM policy, she said, “has been the same as in (the statehouse).”

While weary, Robinson agreed, calling the decision “well-informed given our vaccination rate and input from medical and public health officials.”

Sophomore Liz Peace feels similarly.

“As long as everything coincides with CDC guidelines,” she said, “the lack of masks and mandatory testing in on campus sports does not make me feel any less safe.”

Others are excited to feel less burdened by the pandemic. Sophomore Daniel Loverro said, “as we continue through the end of the pandemic it’s also important to acknowledge that life must go on.”

A few weeks following the policy change, masks are a rare sight on campus.

The Community News Service is part of the Reporting and Documentary Storytelling Program at the University of Vermont.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/AlexiusHoratius

6 thoughts on “Masks ‘a rare sight’ now on UVM campus, but some students still wish they were mandatory

  1. Masks are now a status symbol for the Left used to virtue signal one’s allegiance to Progressive theology.

  2. Arent they mandatory “vaccinated “? Why would they need face diapers? Guess they want those plastic fibers in their lungs. So sad. Look what you’ve done.

  3. We are at the “threat level” of a typical flu season at this point so anyone who wishes to wear an N-95 for their own protection is free to do so. Requiring universal face coverings for the protection of others is overkill from a science standpoint as well as being oppressively burdensome. Some things that we should NOT give up after this viral adventure are some level of social distancing, hand washing and staying away from others when having symptoms of communicable illness. Those were common sense measures before and should be part of any polite society. It’s nice to have a little more personal space whether in a grocery checkout, a bus shelter, a church or a restaurant.

    • Yea, if you dont believe in immune systems enhanched by exposure. Masks are effective at one thing…the propagation of fear.

  4. Masks do not sanitize the wearer nor do they sanitize the airplane, bus, train etc. In fact, masks appear to be as unsanitary as used toilet paper laying around on the ground.
    It’s time to move the CDC back to an honest public health agency devoted to real science and to remove it as a public relations arm of the White House

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