By Garrett Cote
It has felt like an eternity since March 2020, despite it being only two years. Since that time, the entire world experienced a global lockdown; there were protests and marches flooding streets across America in response to the murder of George Floyd, forests were rapidly decimated and destroyed by wildfires, and a seemingly infinite amount of unjust violence gripped each and every person as tight as a vice.
With draining negative headlines filling newsstands and televisions over the past 23 and a half months, it’s hard to believe something positive is even possible.
But, on Feb. 17, Springfield College announced in an email that students who are fully vaccinated would likely no longer be required to wear masks in the majority of on-campus buildings starting March 1, depending on the City’s updated guidelines. The only places masks will still be needed are in academic buildings, including the Learning Commons.
Finally, something positive.
“I heard about it from one of my friends. They said the school was going to be sending out an email about no masks, but I didn’t believe him at first,” said Springfield junior Jason Earle.
“Just the way things have been going with the school being strict about guidelines, I didn’t think they would do this, at least not this year. But when I finally got the email, I was like, ‘Wow, this is a really big step.’ This is the first time in like two years we will be in buildings without a mask on.”
The steps being taken, no matter how big or small, are vitally important to those on Alden Street. They have adhered to every rule and guideline the College has input. Although the decision may seem overdue to some students, it doesn’t take away the pure joy of seeing the full faces of the Springfield College community.
“I thought this was long overdue, to be completely honest,” said Springfield College junior Daevin Brazeal.
“Since this year started, I felt like we were doing pretty well with the COVID stuff. We were required to be vaccinated and get the booster, so I thought that was going to change some of the mandates, but it didn’t. I’m definitely happy they made the decision to finally change the guidelines. I’m excited to see everyone’s face again.”
Even with these masking policies not set to change for another week-and-a-half, a lot of students have already noticed their peers maskless in buildings – taking away from the excitement of when the new rules are established. Regardless, being maskless in Cheney or the Wellness Center for the first time in nearly two years is surreal for some students.
“The fact that there are some people that don’t wear masks already kind of takes away the anticipation,” said International Hall RA, Kevin Velazquez-Rivera.
“But this is something that’s needed to be done for a while, and it’s nice to see everyone collectively excited about something.”
Another change in Springfield’s COVID-19 regulations is quarantine being reduced from a 10-day period to a five-day period. The CDC made this change back in December of 2021 and the school has now decided to follow suit.
“That’s a little weird, because if it was 10 days last week, why is it five the week after?” Velazquez-Rivera said. “It doesn’t make much sense, but the fact that it is shorter is better for students so they don’t have to miss out for too long on anything important.”
Any form of exercise (lifting weights, cardio, etc.) has had an increase in difficulty due to wearing a mask in the gym. Now, that difficulty will disappear, and the breathing struggles will no longer exist. Earle, who not only works out consistently, but also is an employee at the Wellness Center, is ecstatic about his future trips to the gym once the rules are updated.
“I’ve never been the biggest fan of masks, but I’ve always followed the rules,” Earle said.
“It’ll be nice to go to the gym and not have to enforce rules as an employee when people have their masks down. Not having to wear them at the gym makes my job a lot easier, and will make it easier for me as well when I’m working out.”
The buzz and emotion is back on-campus as nice weather approaches, and so are everybody’s smiles as masks begin to vanish.
Photo Courtesy Springfield College