On Monday, Albion College lifted all campus mask mandates. Today, students, faculty and staff are no longer required to wear masks in any space on campus. Students and college personnel were informed of this via email on March 25.
Masking was first required upon student’s return to Albion in the fall of 2020 and was enforced on the Albion College campus. This continued through the 2021 spring semester. The mask mandate was briefly lifted during the summer months but was again reinstated in August of 2021.
“With COVID numbers in Calhoun County remaining low (one hospitalization and three cases overall), we are lifting the mask mandate in all spaces on the Albion College campus, starting Monday, March 28,” said Joe Calvaruso, interim president, via a campus-wide email. “We ask that you use your best judgment for your safety and wear a mask if you are at risk. If the situation changes and cases begin to rise again, you will receive further instructions and information.”
The public was also informed of the college’s removal of its mask mandates via a Facebook post made by Albion College.
“Thanks to everyone who helped keep Albion College safe and healthy through COVID-19. As of today, the mask mandate at Albion College ends in all spaces,” the post said.
Previously, the requirement for masks in indoor, non-instructional spaces was lifted on March 8. Required mask-wearing in academic instructional spaces was the last of Albion’s COVID-19 restrictions.
“With the masks gone, there are no more COVID-19 restrictions on campus,” said Melissa Sommers, assistant director of Health and Wellness.
After wearing masks in class for nearly two years, it is odd for some students to see classmates not wearing masks.
“I’m glad the mask mandate was lifted, but I think I’ll always be concerned about COVID as a person who has never gotten it before,” said Isaiah Quarles, Chicago senior. “It’s weird to see my classmates’ faces after two years and think, ‘wow, you’ve got a mustache now.’”
Nonetheless, Craig Streu, associate director of biology, reminds students that he chooses to mask and adhere to other COVID-19 restrictions out of care and concern for others.
“What matters more to me is how the people around me feel about whether I’m masked and, because masking is largely about those people around us,” said Streu. “I will continue to mask when the people around me would prefer it.”
The mask mandate was lifted in response to a decline in the number of COVID-19 cases in Calhoun County. Albion’s masking requirements will likely remain lifted for the foreseeable future.
“The only thing that would make it so we have to go back to masking is if the county’s numbers went back in the red,” said Sommers. “If the numbers go back up, we will have to go back to masking, but right now everything is looking really good.”
Still, according to Streu, COVID-19 cases may shift and cause changes to again take place in relation to masking on campus.
“If it feels like the guidance related to COVID protocols is inconsistent, that’s likely because it is, and I don’t think that is necessarily a bad thing,” said Streu. “Fluctuating guidance tends to be a result of new science or public health data that prompts a shift in policy. Reaching new conclusions based on changing information is an everyday part of life in the scientific world where I spend most of my time, but it can feel like bad or uncertain policy even when it’s not.”