Masks Are Now Optional On Campus


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Medical mask on white background.

Kasie Jacobs, Staff Writer

Starting Monday, March 7, students and faculty at Brookdale will have the option to wear a mask or not on campus. As the pandemic seems never-ending, is this a step in the direction of normalcy?

“Personally, I feel safe not wearing my mask at school or anywhere else. School is really the only place that I still wear it. I am double vaccinated and boosted… As a whole, my family is extremely healthy. We all had an extremely negative experience with COVID about a year ago where two of my grandparents and my father were hospitalized for two weeks to two months. Thus, we have made sure that we are as protected as we can possibly be,” said 21-year-old liberal education major, John Vento from Manalapan via email.

The pandemic has been an extremely difficult time for everyone and given the time span, many have become accustomed to wearing a mask or don’t feel comfortable getting rid of it just yet. But now, the long-awaited option is available.

“Any person may choose to wear a mask or not wear a mask regardless of whether they are unvaccinated or vaccinated,” said Laura Oncea, director of communications via email.

The school will not be keeping track of who is and who isn’t wearing a mask, but those who opted for weekly testing must continue to do so.

“The college will keep track of infection on the campus by testing results and reported Covid cases. In addition, the College will continue to follow guidance issued from local, state and federal public health authorities, including Executive Orders, Directives from Monmouth County, and continue to follow the Greater Monmouth County infection rates,” Oncea said.

It is still possible that the mandate will be reinforced if cases increase following March 7. As Governor Murphy and the New Jersey Health Department stated, “Given the continued drop in new cases and hospitalizations, projections indicating a continued decline over the coming weeks, and the continued growth of vaccinations for our school-aged population, we believe that we can responsibly end the universal mask mandate.”

As the two-year mark of the pandemic approaches it might be hard to remember or imagine life without a mask.

“The only reason that I would still wear my mask in school is if the overwhelming majority of people decided to as well, just because I don’t want to feel like the odd one out. If I was the only one in a class of 15 or 20 people not wearing a mask, then I would feel compelled to wear a mask too,” Vento said.

“My personal opinion on the mask mandate is that most people are going to stop wearing the masks unless it’s an absolute emergency. The people who aren’t vaccinated may stop testing as well. I’m not sure it’ll be the end of the pandemic because Brookdale will still cautiously monitor the situation to see if no masks are a benefit,” said Tom Hill, a 20-year-old journalism major from Hazlet via email.

Although New Jersey is on the way to mask extinction this isn’t the end of COVID-19 globally and Brookdale will continue to monitor cases and work to ensure students are in a healthy and safe environment.