Campus mask mandate experiences success

The Cougar Statue, which crouches outside the Morris University Center, sets an example for SIUE students, employees and visitors alike by donning a face mask.

Despite the prevalence of “anti-maskers,” SIUE’s mask mandate has been received positively by the campus community, according to the dean of students and MUC staff.

SIUE announced before the semester began that masks would be required in all buildings on campus, and that there would be potential repercussions for students, staff and visitors who don’t comply. Employees and visitors who refuse to wear a mask will be asked to leave. Students who refuse to comply may be reported to the dean of students, whose office will decide potential disciplinary action from there.

The university also released video training on their COVID-19 website called “Let’s Clear the Air” to help people find ways to ask someone to wear a mask if they aren’t wearing one.

Dean of Students Kara Shustrin said it is the campus community’s responsibility to make sure everyone follows COVID-19 guidelines. Since enforcing the mask mandate is a community responsibility, the video suggests that students inform anyone they see not wearing a mask or wearing it incorrectly of the campus policy.

“We thought it was really important to focus our efforts on that idea of community responsibility toward keeping each other healthy and safe during this time,” Shustrin said.

Shustrin said the university wants to make it easy for students and visitors to comply with the mask policy. There are several locations around campus where people can obtain masks, with disposable masks being available in each office in the MUC and each classroom. Students are able to get their free washable cloth SIUE mask from the MUC Welcome Desk. 

The Welcome Desk has also been making announcements throughout the day reminding people when masks are required and to wear them correctly. These announcements usually follow class changing times. 

Assistant Director for Guest Relations Dani Kroencke said that she has not experienced or heard of any negative reactions from those reminded of the mask policy.

“We’ve been very fortunate there’s been no major pushback by anybody who has been asked to put a mask on or reminded of the mask mandate,” Kroencke said. “It’s actually gone over really well. We’ve found people, especially in the University Center, have been very compliant.”

Masks are also available for purchase in the Cougar Store. Disposable masks are $1.50 each and cloth masks are between $4.95 and $5.95 depending on the style; there’s a mask that hangs around one’s neck that can be pulled up when needed, and a more traditional mask.

Assistant Manager of the Cougar Store Anna Pavlik said she has only experienced one person reacting negatively when they were reminded of the mask mandate. 

“I would say [the reception] has been almost all positive. We’ve only had one person with a slight attitude and I think they were just not in a good mood and [the problem was] not necessarily even the mask,” Pavlik said. “It was just the general demeanor.”

Shustrin said the area she finds people are most confused about is if they’re supposed to wear a mask outdoors on campus. She said students should be wearing masks outdoors if they’re in any situation where a six feet distance cannot be maintained.

“I think the biggest place people have confusion is ‘If I’m outside, should I wear one? Should I not wear one?’ and the guidance we really want to throw out there is if you’re walking from the center of campus to a parking lot all by yourself, then no, you don’t need to wear one,” Shustrin said. “If you’re walking with someone else and you’re closer than 6 feet, if you’re outside taking a photo with some people, you really need to be wearing a mask. If you’re having a conversation outside and you’re all seated close together, you should wear one.”

More information about SIUE’s COVID-19 guidelines can be found on their website.

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