Are students following university mask mandate?

Krissy Scott

On September 15, students gathered for the Welcome Back event hosted outdoors by Entrance One, Pace’s student-run public relations agency. Some students decided to wear masks while others chose to social distance while outdoors.

On Aug. 13, 2021, Pace University officially reinstated its mask mandate for the fall semester. 

This decision came shortly after the CDC had curated a list of areas in the country with high community transmission rates of the COVID-19 Delta variant. Westchester and New York earned a spot on this list, suggesting that individuals revert to mask-wearing. Pace followed suit, reinstating their indoor mask policy for returning students. 

“We are also encouraging face coverings outdoors, in situations where social distancing cannot be maintained,” said university president Marvin Krislov in his since-released email.

This mask mandate came as a shock to some individuals, as the CDC had initially made a statement that vaccinated individuals are exempt from former mask mandates as the vaccine had been proven to slow the transmission rate of the virus. 

The new mask mandate is applicable to all Pace students, regardless of vaccination status, and professors have made an effort to reinforce this mandate in classrooms.

Mirjana Pantic, Journalism Professor at Pace University, says students have been compliant with the university mask mandate and only remove their mask to drink water, which is permitted.

“I did ask a few students to cover their noses with a mask or not to take off their masks when speaking in front of class. This was not intentional on their side, I am certain,” said Pantic. 

Pantic believes it is important that students are aware of what is expected of them, so we can proceed with following protocol and “enjoying the opportunity to interact in person again.”

Kessel Student Center seems to be a point of confusion for students when it comes to mask policies. Since campus officially reopened for the Fall 2021 semester, students gather in Kessel’s lounges to have a meal or interact with friends, unmasked regardless of the capacity. However, some individuals do take it upon themselves to social distance as necessary.

Students are allowed to remove their masks to eat at indoor events and club meetings, provided that they put their masks back on when they are done. However, students are discouraged from eating during classes, since classes tend to be more densely populated than club meetings, and the university wishes to limit the amount of time students are unmasked in close quarters.