Gannon University lifts campus-wide mask mandate


Gannon Facebook

Previously spread around campus, all of the “mask required”and “keep distance” signs have been removed from all academic and residential buildings.

Chloe Palmiere, News Editor

For the first time since the summer of 2021, wearing a mask is now optional in all indoor spaces on Gannon University’s Erie and Ruskin, Fla., campuses.

The lifting of the mask mandate was made official on Feb. 23 in an announcement that was sent out via email to all students and staff members.

This is the second time that Gannon has lifted the mask mandate since the COVID-19 pandemic started back in March of 2020.

The decision to remove this requirement, while recommending individual judgment in personal mask use, reflects on Gannon’s high vaccination rates and the vastly reduced incidence of COVID-19 among the faculty, staff and students.

Currently the vaccination rate on the Erie campus is at 89.5%; this is a total of all personnel on campus.

While the mask mandate has been lifted and is now optional, it is recommended that unvaccinated individuals continue to wear masks indoors.

Some students, such as senior nursing major Muriel Very, welcomed the news.

“Personally, I think the mask mandate being lifted is something that many of us needed,” Very said.

“I think we have come to the point where the people who want to get vaccinated have already done so and we are the most protected we can be at this point.”

Very also said that the lifting of the mask mandate gives people a choice regarding wearing a mask.

“I believe that we all need to see that we are moving in the right direction finally after two years, and this is part of that encouragement,” she said.

Gannon will continue to monitor the prevalence of the virus within the community.

The mandatory weekly surveillance testing program for all unvaccinated students, staff and faculty, athletes in accordance with their NCAA required testing, and any individuals who experience symptoms regardless of their vaccination status will still be happening regardless of the mask lifting.

The majority of the students and faculty on the Erie campus have taken their masks off, but some are still wearing them for a variety of reasons.

“We ask that we all show respect for our classmates and colleagues who might still prefer to wear masks for any reason,” Doug Oathout, chief of staff and director of Marketing and Communications, said in a campus-wide email.

“We encourage you to carry a mask with you in case they request you to wear it around them. This is not required per the updated policy but is aligned with our standards of behavior respecting others and supporting the well-being of all.”

Julia Mack, associate dean of the College of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences and director of the university’s criminal justice program, said she was grateful for the protection when the university first imposed its mask mandate, but admitted she was a bit worried about what it would be like having to lecture while wearing a mask.

“I wasn’t sure how well students would be able to hear me or how difficult it would be to breathe while teaching in a mask,” she said.

“After a while it became much easier, and I grew accustomed to it.

Though now that masks are optional, it has been wonderful to see students’ reactions and facial expressions.

A large part of teaching is reading the room, which isn’t easy to do when everyone is masked up.”

Gannon is still encouraging anyone who has flu-like symptoms to avoid campus and reach out to the Gannon nurses via the LiveSafe app, and if you are sick, do not come to campus.

Katie McMillen, a sophomore physician assistant major, said she was a little surprised and a bit nervous when she found out the mask mandate would be lifted, but she believes it “helps our community feel more unified.”

“We have worked hard as a community to stop the spread and I trust that Gannon is making the right decision,” McMillen said. “We have worked hard to be able to have this opportunity and I am excited for the steps moving forward that enhance a normal college experience.”

Many of the students on Gannon’s campuses are excited for this change, but it is a very big change since everyone in the Gannon community has gotten so used to having to wear a mask.

“I am excited that Gannon has lifted the mask mandate, but it does feel very strange to leave my apartment without one,” said Elzbieta Sorel, a sophomore nursing major.

“I feel like I am missing something since we all have been wearing them for almost two years.

Especially when I enter any academic building and see everyone without them on, it is a strange feeling, but I know it means we are headed in a good direction.”


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