On Thursday, March 31st, Pace University lifted the mask mandates in classrooms and elevators. Masks are still required in healthcare environments, transportation, and some courses may individually choose to continue enforcing masks in classrooms.
Dr. Michele Lopez is a professor in the college of health and sciences and is a Pace alumnus. She has been a nurse educator for 17 years and has a doctorate in health education, a master’s in nursing administration, and a bachelor’s from Pace. Dr. Lopez is concerned that there is a misconception that the virus has gone away and no longer poses a threat.
“We can pull back but then we have to always be mindful that we may have to adjust based on what is happening, happening with different variants, based on what the admissions in the hospital are with people who have the infection, so I think just being aware.” She urges people to not let their guard down even though the mask mandates have been lifted.
In terms of ways you can continue to protect yourself, Dr. Lopez says that “It is imperative that people focus their efforts on reducing their risk for infection and they can do this by eating nutritious foods- a rainbow of colors, get adequate rest, exercise regularly, wash hands frequently, avoid smoking.”
A professor of English, Christina Gonzalez, will choose not to require her students to wear a mask in her classroom and feels fine with the ending of the mandate. She described the “waxing and waning in numbers with covid” which makes it difficult to anticipate whether this will be an indefinite thing.
“There is a possibility that there may be again a waxing and waning as we’ve seen with the mandate, but I am totally fine without being masked and not requiring students to be masked.” Gonzalez explained how she did not believe in living from a place of fear and that the virus has had too much control over our lives and society. Nonetheless, she emphasizes the fact that the virus is still very real.
Students also reflected on their feelings towards masks no longer being mandated at Pace. Lindsey Bilton is a sophomore advertising and integrated marketing major who works as a tour guide and at Pace Perk Cafe. Bilton continues to wear her mask in certain settings on campus.
“Covid is not over, it is starting to get worse again…like at the welcome center I know I’m going to be talking to random people who come on campus and I am like alright let me put it on.” She explained how Covid is relatively controlled where you are living on campus with the same people, but the people coming on tours are from different places throughout the country so she feels it is necessary.
Aramis Ramos is a senior at Pace University and a member of Phi Lambda Phi fraternity on campus who is fully vaccinated and boosted against Covid-19. Ramos expresses how he was happy to finally be able to take off the mask, but he recognizes his privilege of not wearing one.
“I can not wear a mask and feel fine and I can test positive and probably feel fine but that is not speaking for people who are immune-compromised, disabled…people who even feel a sense of anxiety from people not wearing masks, so if I had to wear a mask just for those people to feel comfortable, why not?” Ramos feels that those people are singled out with masks not being required and that it is difficult to accommodate both sides of the concern.
Even with the declining cases on the Pleasantville campus and the country reopening, it is important to recognize that Covid-19 is not a thing of the past. Keeping up with healthy habits and taking necessary precautions when sick can ensure that Pace University remains in the green zone and adjust to this “New Normal”.