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Students, faculty share thoughts on changes to masking policies at U.

As of today, Rutgers will no longer require masking in offices, research labs, housing and public spaces in buildings. Though masking in classrooms and lecture halls is still required.  – Photo by Vera Davidova / Unsplash

As the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic enters its third year of existence, many institutions, including Rutgers, have revised their masking policies. As of today, masks will no longer be required in housing and certain public spaces at the University.

Regarding these adjustments made to the mask mandate, students and teachers are having mixed feelings regarding whether they will be beneficial for the University in the long run.

Mary D’Ambrosio, an assistant professor of professional practice in the Department of Journalism and Media Studies, said that while she is not surprised by the changes to Rutgers mask policies, she prefers that masks should remain everywhere at the University.  

“I think that we should get used to wearing masks in more public spaces, just the way you wear a shirt and shoes when you go into the store,” she said. “I don’t think that we are necessarily going to go back to the way things were before.”

D’Ambrosio said that in her residential area in New York City, everyone is still wearing their masks in supermarkets and on public transportation.

She said she appreciates how European countries such as Italy have approached mask mandates, requiring individuals to wear face coverings such as a KN95 mask to enter indoor spaces. As she prepares for an academic trip to Italy, she said she will follow these regulations.

D’Ambrosio said she will continue to wear her mask even in spaces that do not require them and will perhaps wear a mask beyond the pandemic, as well. 

On the other hand, Hailey Koerner, a School of Arts and Sciences junior, said these changes to the mask mandate are a step toward establishing a new sense of normalcy.

She said that whether she wears a mask in the areas where it is no longer required would depend on the situation. Though, she does appreciate that masking is still required in teaching areas such as lecture halls.

“It is good that we still have masks on in certain classrooms because I do have classes where the size is pretty big, and you don’t know who is cautious and who isn’t,” Koerner said.

Other students, such as Stephanie Feuerstein, a School of Arts and Sciences junior, said that while she did not expect the University to announce any changes to masking policies this semester, she thinks the update will be beneficial to the student body.

She said she has heard most other institutions require mask mandates, though she has heard of universities that have far more relaxed policies such as Monmouth University in West Long Branch, New Jersey.

Feuerstein said she understands that Rutgers has to take into account how masking policies will affect all of their students, faculty and staff and believes they have done a good job balancing that.

She said that since the changes to the mask mandate are fairly minor and that the University is gradually adjusting the policy, she believes the adjustments will not be significantly harmful.

“I think the way they are doing it in a gradual way is beneficial, and I think it is good that they are still requiring them in some areas where it might be too much of a risk that the COVID-19 rates would go up,” Feuerstein said.

In light of these policy changes, she said she will not wear a mask where it is no longer required and hopes that masking policies will continue to be relaxed during the Fall 2022 semester.

“I probably won’t wear a mask where it is no longer required,” Feuerstein says. “I feel like I am comfortable enough to do that.”


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