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Westminster removes mask requirements in classrooms

Ashlee Szwedko and Liliana Sauro, both sophomore neuroscience majors, sit without masks at a table with Meghan Wall, a dance professor, who is wearing a mask during class. They are all working on their laptops.
Ashlee Szwedko and Liliana Sauro, both sophomore neuroscience majors, sit without masks at a table with Meghan Wall, a dance professor, who is wearing a mask during class in Dick 102 March 31. “[Wearing masks] has shifted from taking care of others,” Wall said. “It’s back to taking care of me.” Photo courtesy of Q W. Image Description: Ashlee Szwedko and Liliana Sauro, both sophomore neuroscience majors, sit without masks at a table with Meghan Wall, a dance professor, who is wearing a mask during class. They are all working on their laptops.

Westminster College relaxed mask requirements on Monday, March 28. The new guidelines only require masks in Student Health Services and the Counseling Center, according to a campus-wide safety email. 

Glenn Smith, the dean of students, said in an email the change to mask requirements is in alignment with CDC guidelines now that Salt Lake City is in low transmission, with 10 or less COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people in the last week. 

“Please practice respiratory etiquette and stay home when sick,” Smith said. “Wear a mask if you are within 10 days of testing positive for COVID-19 or within 10 days of an exposure to someone with COVID-19.” 

Many members of the Westminster community said they have conflicted feelings about the lifting of most mask requirements on campus. 

Ashlee Szwedko and Liliana Sauro, both sophomore neuroscience majors, sit without masks at a table with Meghan Wall, a dance professor, who is wearing a mask during class. They are all working on their laptops.
Ashlee Szwedko and Liliana Sauro, both sophomore neuroscience majors, sit without masks at a table with Meghan Wall, a dance professor, who is wearing a mask during class in Dick 102 March 31. Meghan Wall said she still wears a mask because she lives with a family member who is immunocompromised. Photo courtesy of Q W. Image Description: Ashlee Szwedko and Liliana Sauro, both sophomore neuroscience majors, sit without masks at a table with Meghan Wall, a dance professor, who is wearing a mask during class. They are all working on their laptops.

“I have mixed feelings,” said Ann Day, a junior education major. “I do like the idea of not wearing a mask, […] I would like to feel like things are back to normal even though they’re not. I think [not requiring masks] is irresponsible of the campus.”

Meghan Wall, a dance professor, said she worries for an immunocompromised family member she lives with. 

“[Wearing masks] has shifted from taking care of others,” Wall said. “It’s back to taking care of me.” 

The updated mask policy was announced via email March 23. Many students said they didn’t receive the email. 

“I found out from Han Kim, I have global health with him,” said Karlie Allen, a first-year public health major. “He said [the new mask guidelines] might come into effect on Monday. Come Monday, […] news spread but we didn’t get anything from campus safety or the dean of students.” 

Smith said he doesn’t know why many students did not receive the email. 

“It’s the same list [used for other mask updates],” Smith said. “That’s the confusing thing. We are investigating [what happened] to the extent we can.” 

The miscommunication made some students confused about if they were allowed to go to class without a mask. 

“It made me a little skeptical on whether I should take off my mask or not,” said Leah Stevenson, a first year biology major. “It felt like word of mouth more, instead of an official [announcement].”

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Q W (they/xe) is a junior communication major with a minor in justice studies. When they aren't in class, you can almost always find xem crocheting, enjoying a cup of tea, and listening to a podcast.

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