Free the chins: Newman's mask mandate is over

By: Tejay Cleland, Editor-In-Chief

For the first time since March 2020 Newman University is officially a mask-less campus.

The mandate, which officially ended on Monday, was eliminated because the positivity rate for COVID tests in Sedgwick County dropped from nearly 20% to under 5% throughout the month of February. Newman President Kathleen Jagger said that the vaccination rate of Newman faculty, staff and students is over 70%, as well..

Jagger also said after the Omicron variant spike in Sedgwick County in January, many students contracted the virus, thus giving them antibodies against the virus.

But the removal is not to be considered permanent, she said.

“It just seemed like that we were at a point where we could move forward safely,” Jagger said. “With the spring weather, people are going to be outside as much as possible. So we'll see how it goes. If we suddenly end up with a lot of cases, then we'll rethink it.”

Although masks are no longer required on campus, professors can still decide whether or not to require masks in their classrooms.

Students are also still welcome to mask at their discretion, and some say they will.

Senior Shayla To said she is glad to see that the university is healthy enough to move to mask-less classes, but she wants to be extra safe.

“I'm wearing a mask for my own purposes and to just protect my family,” To said. “I also work at a doctor's office so I feel like it would also be somewhat irresponsible of me to take off my mask and risk transmitting something to other people.”

Freshman Giselle Cano said she is also masking up to protect her family, and feels weird not masking up after the past couple years.

“I’m mostly wearing my mask for my family; I worry for their health and I’ve had COVID before and it sucks,” she said. “And at the same time it’s kinda hard just to stop wearing a mask when it’s become a norm.”

Jagger said it was finally nice to send a COVID update to students that was positive.

“We're hopeful that this means that we've returned to a more normal environment on campus,” she said. “I think everybody is hopeful of that, but we'll have to wait and see what happens.”

PHOTO: Courtesy photo, University Relations