Today, mask rules are one of the most confusing things to keep following; every day it seems like administrators, town council members and lawmakers are changing their perspective to keep them on indoors or not. The town of Fairfield recently lifted their indoor mask mandate, which delighted some, but bothered others like us. Thankfully, Fairfield University’s mask mandate has stayed in place regardless of the town’s decision.
Granted, Fairfield University is a private university; as a private university that can call the shots however they like, the administrators of our school are correct in defying the town’s decision, since it will ultimately assist the health and well-being of our campus community in the long run.
As Thomas Hobbes famously stated in “The Leviathan,” individuals in society need to give up certain rights in order for the total health of the society, which is called the social contract. However, if not every member of society is on board with a decision, then it simply won’t work. The people who do not want to wear masks indoors will be the ones most likely to catch (and spread) COVID-19; the other part of people who do want to wear masks will still be affected negatively, as there may be more COVID-19 transmission around them by the people who choose not to wear masks.
A key reason we must continue mask-wearing inside of Fairfield’s facilities is the growing worry over global variants. Over a year and a half after the outbreak of the original COVID-19 variant, worries have grown over the increasing spread of the delta variant, which, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, is the predominant variant in the United States since July 2021.
A separate page from the CDC Website claims that “Wearing a mask is one effective way to reduce the spread of Delta and other variants”. Even though masks are not legally mandated outdoors for fully-vaccinated individuals, the CDC still urges fully-vaccinated people to wear their mask if they are in an area where COVID-19 transmission may be high.
And I would agree that masks do not necessarily need to be worn outdoors. We’ve learned through the darkest times of this pandemic that ventilation is key, so if you’ve received both vaccine doses, then there should be no reason you need to wear your mask outside, unless it is your personal choice.
But, as I take a look at the Tully Dining Commons at any given six o’clock dinner rush, it worries me. Everyone is scattered around, socializing with friends, with no regard for masks. It is one thing to forget, and it is another to willingly ignore the fact that you should probably be wearing your mask when you get up and move around.
The part that bothers me the most is the fact that we have almost nothing to lose by wearing masks indoors, but almost everything to lose by not wearing them. By keeping them on for a few more months, they might get annoying; they aren’t the most comfortable things to wear on your face while trying to learn and work, and I do acknowledge that.
But, if we get rid of them now, we will unravel all the progress we have made. Fairfield University has been doing well with handling COVID this year, and the cases have been kept at a minimum. By letting go of the masks, we are letting go of how far we have come as a community.
It is no secret that last school year was stressful; balancing schoolwork and keeping in mind the COVID rules was a challenge for all. With a whole lot of uncertainty, many students, like my fellow classmates in the class of 2024, were thrust into a new situation where fairly strict COVID-19 rules were enforced which hindered a normal transition into college. These rules were important to follow, however; to prevent a negative situation like that from happening again, we must be diligent in our mask-wearing around campus, because it is the least we can do for our campus community