Although it is the beginning of the school year, COVID-19 is rampantly spreading at American University.
Some classes have already been canceled due to professors worrying about COVID, students and faculty members have been sending emails left and right regarding having COVID and even more students have had to deal with COVID scares.
Some professors at American University have already sent out emails regarding COVID-19 protocols. Raymond Lu Ming Ou- the VP of Student Affairs- and Sarah Baldassaro- Interim VP for Inclusive Excellence- have sent out a school-wide email regarding the spread of cases and prevention methods and various places such as the Mary Graydon Center and Bender Library have free KN95 masks for staff and students.
However, American University has yet to enforce any mandates, keeping safety precautions like masking optional in classrooms and campus shuttle buses.
So what should American University do about the campus-wide spread of cases?
I have interviewed five students- all of whom will remain anonymous- about their opinions regarding four things:
- American University possibly reinstating a mask mandate,
- Should there be increased COVID prevention around campus,
- If we- the American University student body- should remain COVID-conscious and
- Most importantly: How?
“I feel a bit safer with [a mask mandate] so that it helps not only me but people who are immunocompromised,” says one student. Along with that, a member of AU’s Disabled Student Union commented on how “it’s honestly heartbreaking” that there is currently nothing they can do other than to tell students to ask their professors to ask their students to wear masks.
Students say that there should be increased COVID prevention on campus.
“It’s disgusting,” one student said. “The fact that we now don’t even require is so scary to me. Anyone can get on this campus and spread COVID easily. I’ve been in so many classes recently where people are coughing so hard it feels like their lungs are going to come up, and they don’t even cover their cough, nevertheless, wear a mask.”
Another student says that it’s “concerning and frustrating” that being vaccinated has been bumped down to only being “strongly recommended” for students, staff members and visitors.
Students emphasized that everyone should remain COVID-conscious, especially in the presence of a larger group of people.
“You shouldn’t need mandates to tell you to do basic things like wearing a mask in public, getting vaccinated, or testing when you have symptoms,” one student said.
Students also say that the amount of COVID cases “should be a clear indicator that people need to be more cautious,” but, reportedly, there are still many students walking around maskless and having full-blown coughing fits.
“People don’t care about the emails,” a fifth student said. “I’m a member of this group, even though I’d consider myself prescriptively COVID-conscious. I think there needs to be something done that rewards (in some capacity) personal individual actions towards COVID consciousness on the part of the university.”
AU students believe that more needs to be done by the university outside of sending mass emails. According to the students interviewed, masks should be mandated back into the classroom since it’s an easy place for COVID to spread.
Along with that, the test vending machines need to stay in commission and professors should adopt a hybrid mode for classes so sick students don’t feel forced to attend class. Students, however, need to start taking steps to protect themselves first.
As you can see, the consensus is that American University should bring back the mask mandate and make masking mandatory in crowded areas such as classrooms. There should be more COVID-prevention mandates around campus overall such as mandatory vaccines. Finally, we, as the AU student body also need to put in more effort when it comes to being COVID-conscious. There’s only so much that mandates can do without people following them.