Mask mandate lifted on Gannon University campuses

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Gannon University President Keith Taylor speaks to a group of students and guests at the first orientation session for incoming freshman. It was at this session that he announced the lifting of the mask mandate on Gannon’s campuses.

Faith Wilson, News Editor

Gannon University President Keith Taylor, Ph.D., announced Thursday that the mask mandate on campus has been lifted. The announcement was made at the first in-person first-year student orientation Gannon has held since 2019.

Following CDC and Pennsylvania state guidelines, Gannon University now removed almost all COVID-19 restrictions. This includes restrictions for social distancing, occupancy limits and on-campus gatherings, as well as returning to pre-COVID-19 traffic patterns.

Students and faculty are asked to report their fully vaccinated status at https://update.gannon.edu/vaccinecard.

Individuals who are not vaccinated or have not yet reported a fully vaccinated status will be required to follow COVID-19 guidelines in the fall. This includes testing at least once every two weeks as well as testing and quarantining if they are considered to be a close contact with a COVID-positive individual.

Vaccinated individuals who show no symptoms will not need to quarantine if they are a close contact but will need to quarantine if they begin to show symptoms.

Along with the lifting of the mask mandate, green check marks will no longer be required to enter a classroom.

On Thursday, 89 students and their guests arrived on campus with their masks on and ready to go. After registering for the orientation event and sitting through the first half of the opening ceremony, no one expected the announcement.

Students, guests and faculty alike all cheered as many were able to take off their masks and see the face of the person next to them for the first time.

Thomas Olaes, a junior mechanical engineering major and a transition guide for the orientation session, said he was in awe during the announcement.

“Dr. Taylor’s announcement of the mask mandate being lifted felt like such a mic drop moment with the way he delivered it,” Olaes said.

While everyone was excited to take off their masks, the transition guides were also pleased with the way it helped the incoming students connect more with their peers.

“I felt that a lot of people were more comfortable going around campus and socializing,” Olaes said.

Madison Maurice, a junior digital media and advertising communication major and transition guide, was also present during the announcement.

“The best part was being able to see everyone’s smiles throughout the day and watching students hug each other as they left,” Maurice said. “I think everyone, including myself, will be happy to have a normal semester with bigger class sizes, breaks and ,of course, no masks anywhere.”

As a return to normalcy begins, university officials want to remind students to continue protecting community members by reporting any COVID-19 symptoms to the university’s health center. The daily health screening questionnaire will still be available throughout the fall semester to use when needed. Despite the ongoing need for vigilance with COVID-19, students and Gannon community members are looking forward to the lifting of restrictions for the upcoming semester.

Brady Bizon, a senior physician assistant major, theatre minor and transition guide, is hopeful for the fall semester.

“I’m hopeful that more students will recognize how many opportunities there are and not take our time together for granted,” Bizon said. “We have a lot of catching up to do in terms of lost experiences and I, for one, will not waste a moment.”

FAITH WILSON

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