‘It is far too soon’

Petition to keep masks mandatory

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Abigail Callahan, Contributor

Now before I start, I should make one thing clear. I don’t like wearing a mask. I can’t think of one person who actually enjoys wearing them. They’re uncomfortable, inconvenient, and annoying to deal with. But I still wear them because I care. On October 29th, 2021, a new Chancellor’s Order was sent out to all university students stating that students are not required to wear facial coverings within residence halls on their own floors. In my opinion, it is far too soon for us to be lifting facial covering restrictions for residence halls. In this article, I will explain why it is too soon to lift mask restrictions and the negative effects it may have on the friends and family of UWW students despite vaccination statuses. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, vaccinated individuals should continue to wear facial coverings indoors and out in public if they reside in an area deemed a substantial or  a high transmission area. Walworth county has been, and is currently, classified as a high transmission area. This classification is determined by the relationship between new covid cases and the percentage of positive tests in the past week. Currently, as of November 7th, 2021, Walworth County has a 10.63% positivity rate in covid cases for this past week. While it is true that UW-Whitewater has a low positivity rate according to the UWW covid office, that doesn’t mean that students don’t constantly interact with the Whitewater community. Students who live on campus are in constant contact with others no matter where they go. All students are interacting with hundreds of new people, whether in the dining halls, classrooms, workplaces, and off-campus locations like Walmart. By removing facial coverings within the floors of the residence halls, there is no more protection for students from the possibility of being in contact with covid. Even vaccinated students (while at lower rates than unvaccinated) are still able to transmit covid to others.

What makes UW-Whitewater so unique is the location of our campus. Settled between Milwaukee and Madison, many students are drawn to UWW because they are able to visit home often. This brings up another concerning aspect of the Chancellor’s order, which is the effect it can have on the friends and family of those who go home often. Students who go home regularly, run the risk of transmitting covid to friends and family who are unable to get vaccinated or have compromised immune systems. I have a personal story about my youngest sister recently contracting covid due to her inability to get vaccinated because of her age. Just because you are vaccinated doesn’t mean that you can’t put those you care about in danger.

Some may argue that students can just wear masks if they are so concerned, but that completely disregards the science behind how masks work. Masks are most effective when both parties are wearing them correctly. If only one person is wearing a mask, they are susceptible to infection from the other person who is not wearing one. The people who choose not to wear one may continue to interact with others who chose not to wear masks. When we remove the protection of wearing masks in residence halls, all students are at risk of spreading covid to each other and to the people they interact with outside of the residence halls.

What I love about the University of Wisconsin Whitewater is that we are all able to share our own opinions and experiences. College is meant to be a place of learning. Learning knowledge, learning new experiences, and learning about diversity through a collective culture of mutual support. We need to do what is best to maintain the safety and health of our students so that we can continue to learn. I ask the students of UWW to voice their opinions about the new Chancellor’s order. For those who share my concerns, please sign this petition for the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater to reconsider the mask mandate within residence halls. https://www.change.org/p/uw-whitewater-uw-whitewater-11-1-mask-mandate-reconsideration

We all deserve to live and enjoy college life as safely as we can, keeping our loved ones safe as well.

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