CCSU Undergoes First Week Without Mask Mandate

Derek McLeod, Contributor

On April 4, the changes to COVID-19 protocols announced by Connecticut State Colleges and Universities System President Terrence Chang on March 10 went into effect.

The changes included the mask mandate, which was lifted on the Central Connecticut State University campus and the 17 other colleges under the CSCU umbrella. The initial reaction to this news was positive, with many students willing and eager to get closer to everyday life.

The number of students walking in residential buildings, outside, and in classrooms maskless was astonishing. April 4 marked a day of progress for Connecticut college students and demonstrated just how willing the CCSU community was to get past the pandemic that initially hadn’t seemed to go away.

At the time of writing, we are in the second official week of no masks on campus, and the campus looks as lively as ever. Despite this, the fear of COVID-19 still exists, as several countries worldwide are currently experiencing a rise in cases, hospitalizations, and death rates. This has resulted in the cancellation of some CCSU travel abroad courses for the spring 2022 semester.

While the threat of COVID-19 is alive and well worldwide, Connecticut still ranks among one of the safest states in the country in terms of infection rates. The CCSU community seems willing to move forward with the CSCU’s decision to reduce COVID-19 restrictions.

“I don’t think it is the time to revert back to a masked campus unless high levels of COVID cases arise,” Julie Kim, a CCSU communications professor, said. Kim initially had reservations about the mask mandate lift but has had a change of heart, citing that it may be difficult to reverse course back to a masked environment.

“Once the mask-free policy is established, it would not be easy to revert back,” Kim said.

Despite feeling more comfortable with most of the campus being unmasked and enjoying their freedom, Kim says she still sports her mask during her lectures. “I feel safe when I wear my mask,” she said.

One factor that may force the COVID-19 precautions back into our daily lives is the rise of the BA.2 variant that has started to make its way worldwide.

While the BA.2 variant may be directly responsible for the cancellation of some CCSU study abroad courses, the severity of the Omicron subvariant is lesser, especially compared to the giant Omicron surge that hit hard just this past winter.

According to the World Health Organization, there was no reported difference between the BA.2 and BA.1 variants. Despite this, the worldwide effect still stops CCSU’s study abroad programs. To CCSU senior Ian Badolato, it may only be a matter of time before BA.2 begins to make its rounds in New Britain and impact the CCSU campus.

“With the new variant, I think the [restrictions] will [come back],” Badolato said. “If we keep it out, we might be okay.”

Badolato, who is still planning to study abroad in Italy at the end of this semester, said that while the threat of COVID-19 is still genuine, he, like many others, was thrilled to be able to unmask on April 4.

“It’s been a long time coming,” he said. “I didn’t like it; I don’t think anyone was enthusiastic about it. I kind of just want to put it in the past unless something drastically changes.”

“It’s a relief to be able to see the semester through without the restrictions,” CCSU student Vinny D’Aria said. “We’ve been living like this for two years now, so it feels good to be freed from those restrictions, so to speak.”

Only time will tell whether the CSCU ruling was premature or not. Still, it seems that for the time being, the CCSU community is over the moon, as well as cautiously optimistic, that we have taken that critical step forward in the fight against this pandemic.