A month after the University of Richmond updated its campus mask policy, some students say the changes have brought inconsistencies and confusion.
As of Nov. 6, vaccinated students and staff exercising in the Weinstein Center for Recreation were no longer required to wear masks but must continue to wear them while entering, exiting and walking around the gym, according to a mask policy update on UR's website.
At the beginning of the semester, UR’s mask policy required vaccinated and unvaccinated students, faculty and staff to wear masks indoors. This policy was in effect from Aug. 20 through Sept. 12 but was extended until Nov. 5 in early October because of the COVID-19 data in the UR community.
Abby Wilhelm, a sophomore and employee at the gym, said that the new mask policy could be unclear for students and was often difficult to enforce.
Signs stating the mask policy update could help clarify the regulations, Wilhelm said.
Jared Levine, a senior, said he understood that the shift toward less restrictive mask regulation was a slow journey, but noted the inconsistencies within the current policies.
“I'm excited to see a little bit of progress," Levine said. "That leads me to believe that some things are getting better, but I would also think that other students, other than myself, see that kids in the gym don't have to wear a mask and we begin to question things like where exactly the line is.”
Brendan Fowler, a junior, said he was confused as to why the current mask policies place more restrictions on classrooms than the gym. Fowler did not see a need for masks in classrooms where students sit if people are not required to wear them while exercising and sweating, he said.
Fowler added that he noticed fewer students wearing masks since the mask policy update, specifically in Tyler Haynes Commons. Levine also said he noticed a similar ripple effect.
“Even though it's only in the gym, I've definitely seen less mask-wearing—even just around campus, even in instances where people might not have even had to before,” Levine said.
Anthony Lawrence, Richmond College Student Government Association president, and Penny Hu, Westhampton College Government Association president, emailed students and staff on Nov. 15 to reiterate that masks must be worn indoors aside from the recent exceptions.
“We know mask fatigue is real, we are all tired and many of us are vaccinated, but remember that masking is vital for [immunocompromised] members of the community,” Hu and Lawrence wrote in the email.
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Almost all UR students, 99.9%, have reported their vaccination status as of Dec 7. Of those who reported their status, 97.6% were fully vaccinated, according to UR’s COVID-19 Dashboard.
Contact news writer Teresa Rozier at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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