Mixed masking reviews
Some students are happy, others are confused, and all are hoping for better days
by amir said, contributor
On February 28, after much anticipation, the mask mandate was lifted by the Saskatchewan provincial government. It had previously been lifted on July 11, 2021, before it was reinstated two short months later on September 17. This time, Scott Moe seems set on keeping the province mask-free.
The University of Regina, meanwhile, has announced they will be keeping those who set foot on campus in masks for a while longer: “As we return to in-person teaching and learning and an increased presence of students, faculty, and staff on our campuses, the University of Regina is working to ensure the health and safety of our university community by continuing to require masks in shared, indoor spaces and by updating our mask-use requirements for people coming to campus.” They further stated that, as per the signs that have popped up around campus, non-medicinal masks such as cloth masks and face shields will continue to not be acceptable, and that masks must still be worn to ensure that they cover the mouth, nose, and chin.
These restrictions are expected to stay in place until May, as during the Spring/Summer semester the university is committing to having “full in-person operations and activities taking place without requirements around vaccination, testing, or masking.” With masks required for the duration of Winter 2022 and set to be off for good in Spring/Summer and Fall semesters, the response of students around campus has certainly been mixed.
“I don’t think it makes much sense,” said Mason Hausermann, a fourth-year Arts student. “I don’t see why the rest of the province takes the masks off and the University is making us still wear them. I think it’s gone on for long enough and the whole thing is just a bit odd.”
Olivia Christianson, a first-year Arts student, is more welcoming of the University’s policy: “I think the province was too hasty with how they lifted the restrictions. It puts people, like the immunocompromised and elderly, at risk when other people aren’t required to have the vaccine or wear a mask. I think the university is being smart by keeping the masks on a while longer.”
As a first-year student that came to the University of Regina during the COVID-19 pandemic, this is Christianson’s first time taking classes in person. “The way things are right now, I don’t think I’d be comfortable around other students if we weren’t all wearing masks. I’ve had COVID and I wouldn’t wish it on any of them, so I think it’s important that we consider not only the safety of ourselves but of our fellow people too.”
Meanwhile, as a fourth-year student, Hausermann’s perspective may be a result of his experience with normal on-campus operations and how different they were to the current model of education he and other students are forced to experience. “I’m graduating this semester and it’s just a shame that I’ve got to keep a mask on for my last semester after almost two years of online classes. I really hope their opening plan for next semester doesn’t fall through, because this is getting tiring.”
As on-campus traffic increases and students interact with each other once again, we’re nearing the end of these difficult times. The question remains, though: will these restrictions stay lifted, or will history repeat itself and force students back into masks and Zoom classes? Only time will tell, but for now I remain cautiously optimistic.