By Jackson Hare, Staff Writer
I must apologize to all my professors who had anticipated finally seeing my bare and exposed face, but I cannot find it within me to endanger myself and others for the mere satisfaction of seeing the other half of my weak, tired expression in class.
I truly understand the eagerness to remove the masks and put this pandemic to rest, but it simply has not gone away, which makes throwing away the mask mandate premature and irresponsible.
According to the campus-wide email announcing the removal of the mask mandate, “The University will continue evidence-based practices that balance managing the virus and returning to a greater sense of normalcy.” This assumes, however, their evidence is accurate.
Currently there are two employee COVID-19 cases, according to Xavier’s COVID-19 dashboard, but considering there is no existing mandate requiring students to get tested after potential exposure to COVID-19, there is no way to assure these data points are at all representative of the true number of cases on campus.
In addition, the fear of academic repercussions or having to miss in-person classes gives students no reason to get tested and risk having to quarantine when they could write it off as a cold and continue to attend classes where they are no longer required to wear a mask.
This only adds to the discomfort for those, including myself, who continue to wear a mask. I receive stares walking to and from class that are eerily similar to the stares I got for wearing a mask into the grocery store at the height of the pandemic. I can continue to wear a mask all I want, but I can only protect myself so much when no one else around me is wearing a mask.
Personally, I have a two-time cancer survivor at home, a circumstance that makes me far more anxious and cautious about COVID-19. I expect this is not an entirely unique situation on campus. I am sure there are other students and staff who may have similar circumstances where a family member or even themselves are part of a high-risk group in which COVID-19 may have dire consequences on their health. With that in mind, this new, no-mask policy is ignorant and inconsiderate to the students and staff at Xavier who are disproportionately affected by COVID-19.
Additionally, while 95.2% of students are vaccinated, removing the mask policy only allows the virus to persist and mutate, creating variants that could potentially be more contagious and dangerous.
This decision from the university demonstrates a lack of responsibility to its students, staff and the surrounding community. It feels highly inappropriate that such a decision could be made while people are still dying from this virus.