Despite setting guidelines for face coverings on campus, Valley has not distributed safety products efficiently or policed its set boundaries.
Opinion by Matthew Royer, News Editor
A new semester starts at Valley College during a surge of the Omicron variant of COVID-19. In response, Valley provided students with new guidelines for masks on campus, shifting their policy from previous semesters, mandating N95 masks as its preferred face covering for students and faculty. However, if N95 masks are the designated preference and what students and faculty feel most comfortable with, Valley should actively distribute masks and police the mandate.
In addition to the new face-covering guidelines, Valley mandated booster shots for the student body. Unfortunately, while students and faculty could have expected Valley to uphold its curated safety measures, that assumption has been proven dead wrong after just the first week of Spring.
When walking around campus during Welcome Week, some students could be seen wearing N95 masks or even surgical masks. However, far too many students roaming the campus were wearing the previously distributed cloth masks, gaiters and even bandanas as their face covering of choice. This is not at the fault of the student body – to even get a hold of an N95 mask on campus, a student could not just ask their professor for one; in fact, faculty must request N95 masks to their lecturing space in advance to even have them available.
To get an N95 mask at Valley, students have to go to the campus library to acquire a to-go bag with said masks inside. While this is helpful, there is zero promotion of the mask distribution on campus.
Valley’s welcome email for the Spring semester did not address the changes in their safety guidelines regarding face coverings. While the administration sent the message with information on Cleared4, COVID testing and the new scanning stations, the latter of which have had their own problems during Welcome Week, N95 masks were nowhere to be mentioned, let alone where to get a hold of one.
The email even mentions the library's services on campus but fails to tell the student body of the N95 mask bags just inside.
“It is good for everyone to have them,” said screenwriting major Dylan Clingo. “Obviously, they are required. I do not know the difference between the surgical and the N95 [masks], but it is important to know where to get these resources.”
What should have been a simple handing out of government-supplied safety products in the middle of a deadly pandemic is instead a collection of hoops for students and faculty to jump through just to feel safe on campus.