Over the course of two years, face coverings and COVID-19 restrictions are ongoing, with changes being made almost weekly. Though, there have recently been changes in protocol in Los Angeles county following CDC guidelines. “Mask mandates for indoor businesses such as bars, stores, restaurants, gyms, and movie theaters have been lifted,” said Erica D. Smith of the L.A. Times. However, that does not mean that businesses are no longer able to require them on their own accord.
So what does this mean for Whittier College students? The COVID-19 Task Force sent an email to all students on March 4, 2022 reminding everyone that the College will still require face coverings in shared indoor spaces, as well as prompting students to be mindful of those who continue to be at higher risk in our community. Included in the email is a reminder to “show proof of vaccination and booster shots for all eligible students and share their plans to implement holds on students DegreeWorks for those who have not verified their status.” The email also reminds us that students must wear a mask for 10 days following isolations or quarantine order both indoors and outdoors.
A request was sent to the Task Force in order to ask for information regarding penalties for those wearing their masks incorrectly or not at all, following the recent email and news of the mask mandates being lifted. The team replied, “students who do not comply with masking requirements will be subject to the Student Code of Conduct.” The system in place for violations can be found under the headline, “adjudication Options for Conduct Code Violations.” There have also been rumors floating around campus that students who do not comply with the college procedures will be subject to a fine; this is not true. The Task Force states that the only punishment following COVID-19 guidelines is in regards to vaccine status.
There have been increasing reports of students not wearing their masks correctly while indoors or refusing to wear one all together. According to a poll presented by the Quaker Campus Instagram account, students are not too pleased with the actions of their peers. When asked “if it is important to you that students wear their mask while indoors on campus,” 79% of students replied ‘yes’, while 21% were indifferent or did not care. A total of 72% students reported feeling uncomfortable when others are not wearing their mask correctly, and 64% of them stated that they form negative opinions about others when they are not following face covering guidelines. Finally, 44 students reported on whether or not they feel that Whittier College should implement stricter guidelines following mask regulations. Half of the students wanted to see more rigorous demands from Whittier, whereas the other half did not or responded in neutrality.
In an interview with Third-year Isaac Aldana, he said, “it is important that people wear masks on campus to prevent another COVID outbreak that would cause us to shut down.” In regards to students not following masking protocol, he says that it is most prevalent in the Science and Learning Center, which makes him uncomfortable due to all the time he spends there. Issac also reported that he is likely to form a negative opinion of those not wearing their masks correctly due to the stigma surrounding not wearing them. “We have been in a pandemic for almost two years and people still can’t wear it properly,” he said. When prompted on stronger regulations, he does not think they will do much good as such measures would likely not last as the ones we currently have are already being ignored. Issac is just one example of multiple students who are irritated that their peers refuse to appropriately wear a mask in the face of others’ safety.
Whittier College urges students to be courteous to your fellow peers, and think about the power you hold in following the simple task of wearing a face covering. Keep in mind that part of your community is not able to receive a vaccine, some may have children under five years of age at home, and there are others who are compromised themselves. Whether the threat of fines or faculty school board meetings are there or not, be respectful to your community; wear the mask.