By Julia Ballard
Trevecca’s mask mandate has been altered as Covid-19 cases on campus decrease and as of March 14 masks are completely optional for students and faculty.
“Face coverings will no longer be required in classrooms, labs, or any other areas on campus,” said the center for student development in an email to the student body.
On February 11 the mask policy was updated to only require face coverings to be worn in classes and labs. Now the decision to wear a mask is entirely voluntary.
The number of Covid cases on campus hit an all time high in January with a total of 116. During the first four weeks of the semester, more than 230 students were either diagnosed with the virus or were put in quarantine.
As of March 5, there were a total of four active cases with none of those being on campus.
Around 65 percent of students and 76 percent of the staff population have received their vaccine.
Based on local campus data and the decisions made by Davidson County about how to handle Covid-19, university officials decided to move to a mask-optional policy throughout campus starting immediately after spring break.
The university recommends continuing to wear a mask if individuals or those they live with are immunocompromised or are at high risk for severe illness as a result of the virus.
“The most vulnerable population we have on campus is an age group that is older and our faculty represents that specific age group,” said Thomas Middendorf, university provost and senior vice president.
Staff and faculty have faced hospitalizations and their home lives have been impacted by Covid since the beginning of the pandemic, he said.
Middendorf said officials have tried to respond in real time to the numbers of cases on campus, and they are hopeful that large university gatherings like commencement can feel more normal this year.
“I am very optimistic that we will have a [graduation] ceremony where masks will be optional, and as long as we are in the clear with the weather, we should not have any restrictions on the number of guests students can invite,” said Middendorf.
Students who are seeking mask accommodations can contact Michelle Gaertner, associate dean of student success, for more information.The campus clinic is still offering free vaccines and boosters for free for students. Anyone interested should email firstname.lastname@example.org to find more information or to to set up an appointment.