On Oct. 26, Governor John Bel Edwards announced that the mask mandate would be lifted except for in K-12 schools.
School districts, however, can opt out of the mask mandate with the governor’s new update if they continue to follow the existing quarantine guidelines according to the governor’s official website. Despite this announcement, Southeastern is still keeping its mask mandate.
University President Dr. John Crain sent out an email on Oct. 27 stating that Southeastern will continue to keep its mask mandate until further notice. They may revisit their COVID policies at the appropriate time, but until then students will be required to keep wearing masks indoors.
But in all honesty, it would not be the worst thing if we continue to keep the mask mandate at our university.
For one, people will continue to be safer at school with their masks than they would be without them. As reported by healthychildren.org, which is published by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the face masks when worn correctly create a barrier that reduces the spit and respiratory droplets between people, which lessens the spread of COVID.
Now, the masks are not 100% effective, but neither are condoms or seat belts, yet we still advocate for those. They are not going to entirely save humanity, but they at least help us out a bit.
Students also have to keep in mind that going to a university means that we have people coming to our school from all over the country and world, which can create an atmosphere where the spread of germs can be more likely to happen.
In addition, you have to take into account that SLU has many parts of its campus where masks are not required such as outside, eating areas and more.
I don’t think anyone necessarily enjoys wearing masks. Even pro-maskers surely get tired of it. I know I am. But that does not give us the excuse to go against rules to a place we choose to go for our higher education.
People should also keep in mind that, once again, the mask mandate has been lifted everywhere except for schools. So unless you are spending a majority of your time at school, then you still have the freedom to mask or unmask outside of school wherever you please.
For example, I just went to see a play at the Columbia, “The House on Haunted Hill” where the actors and actresses were not required to wear masks during their performance and I know that for a play production I will be appearing in, “Five Lesbians Eating a Quiche,” I also will not be required to wear a mask as an actress.
There are plenty of places where school-related events or activities taking place will not require people to wear masks, so having to wear them in classes for an hour and 15 minutes does not strike me as a huge deal.
Especially considering that at the beginning of my COVID experience, I have had to dance for six-hour rehearsals with masks on, taking notes in air conditioning does not give much of a problem for me.
Another reason that I think that keeping the mask mandate is a good idea is because – I hate to say this – there is eventually going to be another spike of COVID or new variants. If we took away the mandate at Southeastern, it would have to be put back again and people would just go through a constant, annoying cycle of masking and demasking at the university.
Lastly, I know in the past SLU had planned to take away the mask mandate for those who were vaccinated but keep it for those who were not, and honestly, I would rather have us all unmasked or all masked up.
It would make things less complicated and at least everyone would be receiving equal treatment from the university.
When COVID levels manage to get down to a safe situation permanently, then I think that is the time that Southeastern can really look into taking away the mask mandate. But until that time mask up, stay safe, and get that degree Lions.
Editor’s note: This opinion piece is one of two articles in a head-to-head series. Read the other opinion piece here.