To wear or not to wear a mask? That is the decision most residents on FAU’s campus have trouble deciding. When masks & testing are expected but not required it can cause a huge shift in safety precautions made by students & staff.
The Head of The Housing Department, Catherine Kellman provided more insight on these changes. Kellman began by explaining that as a state institution, the Board of Governors has made a mandate that Covid testing is expected, either through symptom screening and/or testing. The university has been conducting random testing all of 2021 as it helps with contact tracing and keeping the population on campus safe.
After speaking with a few Resident Assistants about their take on the new guidelines and the difficulty with dealing with the new changes,
Jordan Jackson RA had this to say
“Mask wearing has become more of a personal thing. Now that they’ve changed the rules to where you don’t have to wear it, it’s kind of up to you to take the precaution of your own safety”.
Another RA named Alecia stated,
“People are going to do what they want but with new COVID guidelines, it seems more like to each their own. Everyone is just doing whatever they want when it comes to masks”.
Students can choose to opt out of testing if they see fit, though they will be asked symptom screening questions to determine if they can move in and participate in everyday activities on campus as usual. In addition to these testing methods, the University has just unveiled that there will also be vaccinations on campus, free of charge & available to all students and staff.
While at the beginning of the year masks were required and you could be reprimanded for not wearing one, the rules to wearing masks have changed to “Masks Recommended” & as recently as this week, it has been changed to “Masks Expected”. These swift changes have many students worried about the safety of their school.
Masks are expected to be worn inside and in places where you cannot be socially distanced.
Notice the language around wearing a mask has changed, due to Governor Desantis stating that schools receiving state funding cannot mandate wearing masks.
The goal of Kellman and her staff is to educate the FAU community about safety precautions we can take against Covid and any of its new strains. Kellman went on to say “the mask helps you protect yourself but also helps to protect others, Masks are a part of community living and are expected to be worn in public”.
You do not know if someone is vaccinated or not and while vaccination lessens your chances of contracting the virus you can still become infected, be an asymptomatic carrier, and spread it to one of your peers.
Rules for “Overnight Guests” have slightly changed due to the pandemic as well. Prior to the new system, students would use the honor code to check in overnight guests at the front desk of their housing building. Now it is mandatory that all guests are checked in electronically prior to their arrival and not overstaying their welcome while here. The overnight limit for guests is 15 visitations, after that point, we’re advised to set stricter boundaries and not allow guests to sleepover.
I followed up by asking Kellman, “what is the protocol if a student does test positive”? She informed me that the school does indeed have rooms specifically to accommodate those who have tested positive or have been exposed to someone who has tested positive. The school chose to do this after acknowledging that many students who live on campus may not have a safe space to isolate themselves if need be. Isolation at FAU is very strict to ensure the safety of all students and staff.
For the 10 days of isolation, the school will ensure you have everything you need, to be delivered to that space upon request. Staff will pick up trash, packages, project rubrics, or even food to ensure your isolation is as easy as possible. These protocols were created so that students can focus on getting/feeling better and returning to the FAU community.
FAU students do get a choice of all the on-campus food options using their meal plan. If you don’t have a meal plan there is an on-campus food pantry to help out students in need of food or you have the option of adding a commuter meal plan. The school provides well-balanced meals as opposed to other Universities that provide their students repetitive meals with simple carbs, fruit, and juice included.
Kellman shared some very important parting words, “It might be a cold, it might be strep, but it’s better to call the Student Health Services and get a test and rule out what it is or isn’t…Students if you feel like you might have been exposed or do not feel good, go and get a test, your tuition has paid for all of this inclusiveness in resources”.
Resident Assistant Madyson Roye pointed out the same point Director Kellman did, “Starting with educating the residents, both with regular policy as well as the new Covid Guidelines”. Roye went on to mention that the RA’s meet with their residents to go over these policies before school starts to avoid confusion, pushback, or anything out of the ordinary.
Arden Wallman, a Sophomore student living on campus has been living on campus since Fall 2020 stated
“I feel comfortable living on campus, I believe the University is doing as best as they can and I believe that everyone just wants to get back to normal. I wear my mask in a public setting no problem, it doesn’t really bother me to wear it. I have definitely noticed fewer people wearing masks now than before but today in a class of 20 only 2 people weren’t wearing masks, so that made me feel safe. I don’t think younger students want to wear masks, I think that since FAU released the statement saying masks are not required most students took that and ran with it and that won’t change unless they make mask-wearing mandatory”.
Student Taliah Dukes is experiencing her first semester on campus despite attending FAU for the past year. She had this to say
“The new guidelines don’t bother me too much, I feel like people aren’t necessarily gonna follow the rules because it says masks are expected but not required. I try to ensure I keep my mask on in public spaces or when I am around a bunch of people but I am not really bothered by it anymore”.
These new guidelines and various opinions definitely seem to be leading us towards a very interesting Fall semester on campus. The University is doing its best to provide as many resources to the students as possible with daily testing at Nations NPR and now daily vaccinations as well. Students are being urged to contact Student Health Services if there are any questions regarding these new guidelines.
More information in regards to FAU’s Covid Guidelines can be found at https://www.fau.edu/coronavirus/
Mykera Crawford is a staff writer for the Paradigm Press. For more information regarding this or other stories, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Instagram & Twitter: @MykeraTheeManifestor