Julia Nagel/Sun Photography Editor

A student, wearing a mask, walks into Olin Library on March 7. Masks are still required in all University buildings.

March 7, 2022

Students Question Whether University Mask Mandate is Necessary

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On Feb. 27, New York State Gov. Kathy Hochul (D-N.Y.) announced that starting March 2, the mask mandate will end in public schools K-12 in New York State. Following this decision, Ithaca College ended their mask requirement and Tompkins County has suspended their mask advisory. Provost Michael Kotlikoff told The Sun that the University plans to reassess their mask policy in mid-March.

In a comment to The Sun, Kotlikoff said that Cornell will continue to base masking policy on scientific criteria and risk factors that are specific to the Cornell community.

With the changing guidance from the state and county, students have mixed opinions on Cornell’s commitment to masks. While some feel more comfortable with masks, others believe it is time to go maskless. 

Rose Davidson ’24 feels more comfortable with keeping the mask mandate. Originally from New York City, Davidson said she is a supporter of mask mandates.

“I feel like every time they get rid of mask mandates it gets worse,” Davidson said. “Until it’s for sure fine, I feel like it’s better to just have [the mandate].”

Davidson emphasizes that while she would most likely be fine medically if she contracted COVID-19, it’s the individuals who are immunocompromised or have health risks that she is hoping to protect. “If they don’t feel comfortable, there’s no other option,”’ Davidson said.

On the other end of the spectrum are students such as Ariana Terenzi ’22 who believe the mask mandate should end entirely. Terenzi questions the efficacy of the masks. 

Terenzi mentioned that students who got COVID-19 in December 2021 are no longer getting tested. 

“They’re not getting tested so it doesn’t make sense that masks are still a thing,” Terenzi said. “A lot of the schools, like where my sister goes, took it off and people are still not getting sick.” 

Other students such as Shlok Seth ’22 think the mask mandate should end due to problems inside the classroom. 

“I think it’s about time,” said Seth. “I think in class it becomes very tough to focus.” 

Makena Kraus ’25 is against the mask mandate for a different reason. Kraus believes that masks create a physical barrier to socializing in the classroom.

“I feel like it’s hard to remember people and get to know them when I only see the top part of their face when interacting in class,” Kraus said.

With changing guidelines, he sees the end of the mask mandate as overdue.

“I think symbolically, getting rid of the mask mandate could signal that we are going to have a normal end to the spring semester,” Kraus said.

Sofia Rubinson ’24 contributed reporting.