On March 8, Drew announced that they would lift the mask mandate. From then on, masks have no longer been required on campus, including classrooms, unless professors requested students wear them. Although many have enjoyed the removal of the mandate, there have been some consequences. In particular, a significant number of COVID-19 cases emerged since the mandate was lifted.
Just because cases are going down in comparison to previous years, the campus community should not put its guard down. We need to be aware of the numbers and do what will keep all students, staff and faculty safe.
In the Fall 2021 semester, Drew finished the semester with a total of 32 positive tests out of 1,530 total, according to the Drew COVID-19 Dashboard. In other words, 2.09% of tests came back positive. This semester, 81 cases came back positive out of 1, 642 (4.87% of cases), more than two times as many as before.
With the dropping of masks, an increase in cases is expected, but as of late there have been more and more COVID scares all across campus. Such a rise needs to be taken into account, especially as we near the end of the semester.
If students contract COVID now, many of them will be missing their final days of class and exams. Studying for finals is hard enough; studying while sick is near impossible
Seniors also risk missing out on graduation and Senior Week if they test positive. A positive test would mean missing their final days on campus, in addition to the two years already lost due to the pandemic.
Overall, the campus needs to be mindful of our habits, regardless of whether or not the mask mandate was lifted. Wearing a mask around groups of people you do not typically associate with, regardless of vaccination and booster status, can save everyone a lot of time and potential worry about catching the virus.
It could take weeks for Drew to reinstate the mask mandate if cases start to soar, and the semester is ending soon. This means it is up to students to help make sure the community stays safe. After surviving a whole semester with masks being mandated, wearing your mask in class or in The Commons for the rest of your time on campus doesn’t take all that much effort and is the least we can do to keep each other safe.
Please be diligent so that we can all finish the semester strong, stay healthy and return home without worrying that we’re taking COVID back to those that we live with.