The Student News Site of State University of New York at Brockport

The Stylus

The Stylus

The Stylus

    Unmasked: The wait is finally over


    It may only be March, and yes there’s still some snow on the ground, but it feels like that first warm day in the beginning of spring. After two long years, SUNY Brockport’s campus mask mandate has been dropped, and we can finally smile again. 

    On Feb. 28, SUNY Brockport President Heidi Macpherson released the following statement: 

    “We have been carefully monitoring the declining number of COVID-19 cases on campus and regionally and following the latest news from CDC and the Governor. Based on guidance from the Monroe County Department of Health, we have made the decision to lift the masking mandate on our campus. This means that as of Wednesday, March 2, for those who are fully vaccinated and boosted, we will no longer require masks to be worn on campus except under certain circumstances.” 

    The statement was released following New York State Gov. Kathy Hochul’s announcement that the statewide school mask mandate would be lifted as of March 2. According to Hochul, the statewide COVID-19 positivity rate has reached an all-time low since the Omicron variant spiked cases this winter. 

    On campus, masks are required in healthcare settings, at events of 5,000 people or more, on the Eagle Run bus, when a mandate is in place or if an instructor mandates their class wear them. 

    “Individual faculty retain the right to mandate masks in their classroom and do not need to offer a justification as discussion of such factors could raise privacy concerns. Please note that current penalties for violations of the mask mandate will apply in the future to violations of classroom mask mandates,” Macpherson said. 

    SUNY Brockport recommends that individuals continue to wear masks if they have concerns about transmitting COVID-19. Surgical masks as well as KN95 masks are available for students, faculty and staff at the COVID-19 testing center in Brockway Hall. 

    Ryan Jennings, a senior studying public relations at SUNY Brockport, is elated with the news. 

    “My first reaction to the email that was sent was one of initial relief. It’s a sign that the pandemic may finally be coming to a stop soon and hopefully a sign that things can get back to normal quicker,” Jennings said. 

    Along with comfort, not wearing masks will reinstate a lot of benefits in the classroom when it comes to learning. 

    “My hearing isn’t the greatest so I would use things like lip reading and facial cues to hopefully bridge the gap from my hearing. It was more difficult with masks to do that, but I was fully OK with complying. As for (classroom) participation it depends on the person, like whether they usually participate or not regardless of masks or introversion or whatever, but I do think in total people will want to participate more as a result (of not having to wear masks),” Jennings said. 

    Gov. Kathy Hochul previously ended New York state’s indoor mask mandate on Feb. 9., meaning local businesses were no longer required to enforce masks. However, this update didn’t change any of the guidelines set in schools. 

    SUNY Brockport students had mixed opinions regarding Brockport’s reaction to the governor’s decision. 

    “I just think that we should keep them all or get rid of them all. It’s so specific. I just wish it was consistent across the board,” Sam Tuttle, a sophomore at SUNY Brockport, said.  

    Another sophomore, Bella DeFeo, didn’t mind the previous conditions mandating masks on campus. 

    “I don’t really care that the update didn’t affect school guidelines. I’m so used to having to wear one (a mask), and I feel like on a college campus you can get sick so fast, so I don’t mind waiting out a little longer,” DeFeo said.  

    Even with the current updates, businesses, as well as counties and cities, still have the right to enforce their own mask mandate. Local entrepreneur Coleen Dwyer of Coleen’s Kitchen in Brockport views this shift differently than the last time the mask mandate changed.  

    “This time around I am letting people go maskless and I’m not requiring vaccination, but I did not do that last time. The first time I did require people to wear masks because I thought it was premature to lift the mandate,” Dwyer said.  

    While many feel comfortable not wearing masks in public, some still prefer the protection. SUNY Brockport released a statement explaining how it’s important to respect individual’s opinions and beliefs regarding the new policy. 

    “It is important to remember that students, faculty, staff and campus visitors may continue wearing face coverings for any number of reasons. For example, some people have found that masking reduces allergies. Other individuals may have not become sick with other illnesses while wearing face coverings and want to continue wearing a mask to prevent other respiratory illnesses. Some may just feel more comfortable wearing a face covering. A face covering should not be interpreted as a symbol of vaccination status. Welcoming and accepting those who wear masks on campus is an important part of being an inclusive community,” Macpherson said. 

    The campus asks faculty experiencing COVID-19 symptoms to contact HR, and students to contact Hazen Health Center. Both parties should resort to wearing masks if symptoms appear. 

    Leave a Comment
    Donate to The Stylus

    Your donation will support the student journalists of State University of New York at Brockport. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

    More to Discover
    Donate to The Stylus

    Comments (0)

    All The Stylus Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *