The majority of students at Ithaca College are willing to wear masks on campus for the sake of having in-person classes and to have a bit of normalcy as they continue to adjust to living their lives during an ongoing pandemic. However, some students had difficulty with the reinstatement of the mask policy on campus. Originally, the college had let students believe that all restrictions would be lifted since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at the time was allowing vaccinated individuals the option to not wear a mask. Students were originally told they would need to wear masks if they were unvaccinated. Otherwise, masks would be optional.
With the rise of the delta variant and the continued escalation of positive COVID-19 cases in Tompkins County, it became apparent that the school needed to reinstate some restrictions on a smaller scale, for everyone’s safety and for the ability to attend in-person classes.
As a community, the college has done well adhering to the only campus restrictions, with the exception of some individuals who have taken COVID-19 restrictions lightly since the beginning. It is a privilege to only have to wear masks indoors, despite some who believe otherwise.
Some members of the college community actually believe there should be more restrictions. The college has chosen not to require COVID-19 testing on campus. For those who believe they need to be tested, it is on them to reach out and make an appointment with Hammond Health Center. Whether this was the best decision for the school is debatable. Students can still contract COVID-19 and spread it to others even if they are vaccinated. Without the other restrictions, many students seem to forget the severity of COVID-19. Many students have lost, or know others who have lost loved ones to this virus.
Without stricter guidelines, some students have taken advantage or gotten too comfortable with disregarding the mask policy and walking around indoor facilities like the Campus Center without wearing a mask. Understandably, students are able to attend in-person classes and events and can experience college the way they wanted to, so it can be easy to forget sometimes.
However, the community is only able to experience all these normal college memories and day-to-day routines as long as the entire community continues to wear masks so that there is not a large increase of positive cases on campus. That being said, faculty and staff are not obligated to get vaccinated and this poses a risk to the normalcy the college has managed to create.
The privilege of only having to wear masks indoors is contingent on the behavior of all members of the community. We cannot forget the severity of COVID-19 or that everything we are able to do now can be taken away.