by THE BLUE & GRAY PRESS EDITORIAL BOARD
As we pass the year and a half mark of the pandemic in America, it should be a surprise to no one that wearing a mask below the mouth or nose is ineffective in preventing the transmission and spread of COVID-19. Yet, even after campus cases have jumped in the first three weeks of classes, some students continue to improperly wear their face masks indoors.
UMW’s face covering and mask policy explicitly states that “Acceptable cloth face coverings and disposable masks should cover the mouth
and nose.” The policy encourages students to remind their peers to wear a mask properly. However, many students may not be comfortable confronting a peer about safety violations. Those who want to avoid confrontation should not be expected to enforce the policy on their own. Additionally, many students may not even feel comfortable getting close enough to someone who is not properly wearing a face mask in order to remind them. While faculty and staff are also encouraged to participate in “bystander intervention,” encouragement is not enough. Professors are authority figures in the classroom, and they should speak up to protect themselves and their students.
All faculty and staff need to be enforcing the mask policy in its entirety, particularly professors in their own classrooms. Students who do not comply should not be allowed into class and are subject to referral to the Office of Student Conduct and Responsibility (OSCAR). Stronger enforcement of the masking policy is essential to diminish our case numbers. It is unfortunate that this issue has even come about; we are all adults that are capable of understanding and following through with necessary safety precautions.
Everyone on campus is being put at risk by those who selfishly do not follow COVID-19 policies and guidelines. While all students have the right to keep one another in check, those with authority also have a bigger responsibility to protect the greater good of the university community.