By Hannah Stoutmire
As of Oct. 3, Xavier’s president Dr. Reynold Verret notified campus that the mandatory mask mandate put in place this semester for the university has been officially been lifted. This statement caused mix feelings from the Xavier community, some good and some bad.
“The prevalence of COVID-19 infections has declined significantly, and the new bivalent vaccines protect against the omicron sub variants,” Verret said his statement. “Thus, the university no longer requires masking indoors. Persons may wear their mask at their own discretion. We encourage members of the community to take advantage of the bivalent COVID vaccines and the current flu vaccine. These protect you and protect the community,” Verret added.
While everyone still has the option to wear their masks, it is no longer mandatory. Masks have been required to be worn indoors since the COVID-19 outbreak at Xavier, including at the start of this semester when other universities had already lifted their mandates.
“There was never going to be a perfect time to do so but we have to try,” said Monica Pierre, professor-of-practice in the Mass Communication department. “I thought it was too soon. Everyone just has to figure out their level of comfort. I plan to wear my mask in certain situations on and off campus,” Pierre said.
In the United States, during September 2022, there have been 42,828 new cases of COVID-19 and 322 deaths due to the virus. As of the last few months, cases have gone down drastically compared to how high they were at the beginning of 2022, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
In the state of Louisiana, there was a substantial drop in cases in September 2022, dropping down to an average of 644, when just a month before in August cases were close to 2,000, according to the Louisiana Department of Health.
Out of the 50 states, Louisiana is ranked 40th when it comes to how fast COVID-19 is spreading throughout the states, and it had 0.99% of the country’s cases within the last week.
On campus, students and faculty said the change is long overdue, and that the University should have been mask optional since the beginning of the semester. Due to health precautions, the University wanted to be sure of the safety for the faculty as well as the students and waited for the cases to stay at a low level.
“The mask mandate being lifted really has been a relief because not only can we see our classmates faces without hiding behind a mask, but it’s one less thing new have to worry about when walking out the door,” said Victoria Duffey, a Biology major.
With Homecoming back in person in November, this new way of life is more concerning for other students on campus. The large crowds coming together can be unsettling for those who would have wanted the mask mandate to stay, others said.
“The mask mandate getting lifted is indifferent to me because I feel like I would still wear a mask indoors just for precautionary measures,” said first-year neuroscience major Yara Bouharb.