By Rose Davis
Students have begun to not wear masks in academic buildings at a higher rate according to teachers. Faculty have been reporting frustration to the Faculty Senate about inconsistencies in student masking in classrooms. The library was one building highlighted to have many students without masks, specifically late at night.
According to Dr. Raymond Ozley, the Faculty Senate president, the Faculty Senate has “received messages from a few Faculty with concerns about enforcing masking.” Ozley said Faculty can report students not wearing masks in the required areas to the university’s COVID-19 task force.
Some professors believe that masks are being seen as performative measures, due to the fact students are not required to wear them while eating in the cafeteria or while in residence halls.
“It may seem ridiculous to require them in classrooms but not in residence halls or when eating,” said Dr. Susan Caplow, an environmental studies professor. “Faculty very much appreciate the safety measures however, as many of us have unvaccinated or at-risk household members we need to keep safe.”
Others believe it’s due to confusion among students about the current mask requirements. The vaccination rates of students are “higher than what administration anticipated” said Ozley in the senate meeting. This high rate may have led to confusion among students who are vaccinated believing they don’t need to wear a mask at all.
Not all professors are seeing this issue. “I do not see any difference in students’ attitude towards the use of masks. All my students comply with that requirement, and I have not seen any one inside the building without a mask” said Dr. Leonor Vazquez-Gonzalez, a Spanish professor, “Very randomly I ask a student to use it properly, covering his/her nose. I do not see any difference from last year and this semester.”
Dr. Emma Atwood, an English professor, said “When I walk into my classroom, I love knowing that I’m walking into a safe, supportive environment full of mutual respect, and following the masking policy helps to demonstrate this ethic of care and compassion.”
Currently, the University of Montevallo’s policy requires all students to wear masks in “all academic buildings, laboratories and clinics, personal meeting spaces, indoor common areas, health-related offices, any area that may have children younger than 12 years old present” and any other area that visibly state a mask is required. This is regardless of vaccination status.
An email sent from the University Marketing and Communications Office explained the requirement was originally put in place, and later extended, because of the rising COVID-19 rates throughout the state and nation.
Any questions about COVID-19, from both students and faculty, can be answered by Student Health Services.