Written by: Rachel Tucker
NC Governor Roy Cooper just announced yesterday that all faculty, staff, students, and visitors to North Carolina State University must be wearing masks when they are on campus at all times. If they do not have masks then they will be provided them. Masks are also required in buildings that are not university owned if NC State has programs that participate in said buildings. Students in residence halls will not be required to wear them unless there is an influx of people in the building. However, the message sent to students via email about this new requirement also states “everyone is required to carry a face covering at all times.” How would this be enforced? Is it required to wear them while walking to class, since that is on campus? And why is university policy so strict when most classes have permanently been shifted to online for the fall semester?
Dozens of other universities have sent students and faculty the same emails concerning masks, and some faculty are worried that students will not respect the rules. According to The Inquirer, 900 faculty members at Pennsylvania State signed a petition giving them the right to choose how to “deal with” students who will not wear masks. They want there to be a mandate so that they are not being forced to work in a “potentially toxic, experiment-like work environment”. They have the right to change their class to online, but do not want to punish the rule abiding students for the ones who will not wear masks.
This mask debacle is somehow becoming an acute Student Vs. Instructor issue, because faculty is worried that the rules will be broken, but there is no credibility behind that accusation. Additionally, most students are completely fine with following rules, but as things are becoming increasingly strict, the idea of going back to a physical classroom seems less and less desirable. Roaming campus and seeing friends in the hallways has been at the forefront of many students’ minds as we have been quarantined for so long, but not if it is going to be a hostile campus. The requirement is not going to be pleasurable for anyone, especially students who will have in person classes and are student employees. I personally work two jobs on campus, at over 20 hours a week. Those hours combined with the ones where I am in the classroom would be an incredible amount of time to wear a mask.
Masks can serve as a preventative but being forced to wear them on property that we live on, like in Durham, seems like an extreme. Wearing them in class is understandable; instructors should not have to feel uncomfortable. Wearing them while working in the customer service industry is logical as well. However, it seems as if there is not really a need to have physical classes open back up if the distraction of masks and social distancing will take away from the learning experience at the end of the day.