by Caitlin Lassiter
Students’ willingness to wear a face mask in class and around campus is the key to keeping the fall 2020 semester in-person, Trevecca faculty said during a COVID-19 Town Hall meeting on Thursday.
“We are all in this together. We are all required to wear a mask and we are all required to participate in these practices that will keep us safe here on campus and in our city.” Dean of Student Development Jessica Dykes said.
Requiring the use of face masks is just one practice Trevecca staff has implemented in their efforts to keeping students safe this semester during the COVID-19 pandemic. Thanks to social distancing, contact tracing, daily health screenings, reduced class sizes and a 7-7 week schedule that lowers the number of people in a building at one time, Trevecca’s community has managed to stay on campus with only a few daily active cases and non-threatening quarantine numbers. As of Sept. 10, there are only five active cases, which are in isolation off campus, according to the university’s live updates.
In a season where many colleges and universities have gone fully remote for learning due to rising case numbers, Trevecca President Dan Boone said the student body has “succeeded massively well so far” in participating in the practices that are keeping students safe.
“I feel that Trevecca is doing their best to keep everyone on campus safe by requiring masks in all classrooms and areas around other students,” said student Encyna Seidemann, who attended the event virtually. Seidemann, a junior psychology major, also said she has seen the majority of people on campus abiding by the mask requirements.
In response to questions at the Town Hall about what the penalties would be for students neglecting to wear a mask, Boone said that they will “start by assuming good in people,” but after a pattern of constant non-compliance, fines will be handed out and students may even be asked to go home.
“If you see something, say something. Be respectful, as always, but say something to the person. Every one of us has the right to expect certain behaviors of one another,” Boone said of how to engage in conversations with fellow students concerning the mask requirement.
There is a schedule in place to handle the worst possible outcome of students needing to pack up and return home, however, Boone said Trevecca is “planning for the best possible outcome.”
In the midst of an unprecedented time for college students and faculty alike, Dykes said Trevecca is “a university that wants you here” and has worked “extremely hard” to get students back home to the hill for the fall 2020 semester. The responsibility now lies with the students and their willingness to put in the diligent effort it will take to keep their community safe.