The new semester brings students back to campus. Students have travelled home for the holidays, whether it’s in town or a different state. While going home for the holidays is not an issue, it becomes a concern when it is time to return to campus and all of these students are now back in classes together. With the on-going pandemic many classes have been modified to be fully online or hybrid. Classes that are not modified strive to provide room for social distancing with desks spread out, limited seating available, and mask policies.
Pittsburg State Universities’ official mask policy, which was put in place August 27th, 2020 states “Students, faculty, staff and visitors must wear a face mask covering their mouths and noses in campus buildings, except while eating, or while alone in an enclosed private, single occupancy space. Face masks must be worn in non-private, single-occupant spaces that others use (public bathrooms, copier rooms, public study rooms).” According to the mask policy face masks must be worn inside along with the social distancing guidelines that have been put in place, with the exception being if the person is currently eating or if the student has a disability that prevents them from wearing the mask.
With that being stated, campus should work harder to enforce this policy in the upcoming semester, especially with students returning from the holiday break. Professors have the right to deny students entry to the classroom if they are not wearing a mask and the right to enforce they wear a mask in the classroom. That right needs to be enforced much more strongly this semester. Many times, from personal experience, students appear to walk into the classroom and upon sitting, take their masks off and never seem to put them on again until it is time to leave. Despite it being a full classroom with desks not quite being a full 6-ft apart.
Students use the reasoning of eating to get out of wearing their mask. Students should be allowed to eat in class because as a student it is hard to find the time to have a full meal throughout the day. However, students sometimes take advantage of this and use it as a way to avoid wearing a mask. Professors should be stricter with students when it comes to this, taking a bite of a granola bar every 15 minutes should not count as eating the whole time, nor should a sip of water here and there. If that is the case, students can take their masks off to take a bite or drink and put them back on.
Taking advantage of the ways to get around wearing a mask puts not only that person at risk but everyone else in the classroom. The pandemic appears to not be going away anytime soon and masks are going to be a new norm. As masks become more normalized so should enforcing mask policies. Professors can enforce attendance policies and late policies yet asking a student to wear a mask is an issue. We need to work to keep ourselves and others safe this semester.