Campus Mask Policy

Students walk around campus on the first day of the Fall 2021 semester. Mayor Tim Kelly announced earlier in the week that those who oppose a schools mask mandate have the option to opt out. Monday August 16, 2021. (Photo by Serretta Malaikham)

In regards to The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga’s initial COVID-19 protocols, students have many differing opinions on mask policies and student safety. 

Chancellor Steven Angle announced on Aug. 2 that masks were required in all UTC instructional spaces. 

Again on Aug. 19, Chancellor Angle said via email to the UTC community that he “urge[s] everyone to wear a mask while inside buildings and to get vaccinated.” 

However, in light of the recent rise in COVID-19 cases, Angle modified these protocols by adding that “face masks must now be worn by everyone in all indoor public spaces on campus except when alone in private offices, residence hall apartments and rooms, while engaging in fitness activities and while actively eating and drinking.”

Most students are well-informed about the current mask policy and the continued pressure to wear masks. The policy is the same across the board, but it impacts each student differently, considering the variety of personal needs and experiences among students.

Matthew Thoenon, a freshman at UTC, said that he is unsure how effective masks really are. 

“I’m not 100% convinced that masks do really anything," Thoenon said. "Not many students wear masks in the halls, but what is fighting going to do besides cause issues and problems?” 

Thoenon also said that he has contracted COVID-19 in the past and while he is still skeptical about masks, he is willing to comply with UTC’s rules.

On the other hand, Sophomore Victoria Pierce believes that UTC’s mask policies are necessary for student safety. The initial mask policies did not meet her standards because she believes masks should have been required in all indoor spaces since the start of the semester.

“I’m happy that I can walk around outside and not have a mask on, but then be close to somebody in person and feel protected,” Pierce said. “I would go as far as to say if you’re walking to find a seat in Crossroads or the UC, maybe just throw on a mask while you’re walking.” 

Similarly, Freshman Aubree Cochran agrees that wearing a mask in the classroom alone is not enough to keep students safe. 

“Only wearing masks in the classroom is kind of pointless if we are all in the hallways not wearing one,” said Cochran

Cochran has family members who are immune-compromised, so maintaining a safe and healthy atmosphere on campus is extremely important to her. 

Luckily, for students like Pierce and Cochran, UTC has now updated their mask policies to include all indoor public spaces on campus, to ensure that students are as safe as possible.

To learn more about UTC’s Covid-19 policies, visit https://blog.utc.edu/coronavirus/covid-19-information/

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