Are Masks a Thing of the Past?

By Jacob Geraldo-Rubi

College of Southern Nevada lifts the mask mandate as the semester started on campus no longer requiring face coverings to attend classes, leaving some to question whether the decision was preemptive.

Feb. 10 the President of CSN, Dr. Federico Zaragoza, announced in an email that he would follow the directive of Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak and immediately lift the requirement of face coverings in public spaces, including classrooms and workspaces.

Dr. Zaragoza stated in that email, “In the memorandum issued by NSHE (Nevada System of Higher Education), individual NSHE institutions do not currently retain the authority to unilaterally impose more stringent face covering requirements beyond Nevada law. While we encourage the use of face coverings on campus, we respect personal choice on the decision to use them. Please avoid stigmatizing any individual based on their personal decision to wear a mask.”

According to the Southern Nevada Health District Covid-19 tracker, as of March 23, 2022, there are approximately 495,000 total confirmed cases of Covid with 25,500 hospitalizations and 7,739 total deaths in Clark County to date. A peak was hit Jan. 5 with nearly 7,000 cases a day and since then, numbers fell precipitously to 36 cases a day now.

CSN student Berenice Ramirez states that despite not being fearful of contracting the virus herself, the mask mandate should not have been lifted yet in order to protect everyone’s safety, especially those who are unvaccinated and those with pre-existing health conditions. “I feel like the decision was a little too soon. I would have given it another year to make sure that there really isn’t contamination, especially in heavily populated places.”

While Covid-19 cases in Nevada have decreased since the mid-January peak, some are still concerned about the possible variants that may arise in the future.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Covid-19 webpage, “Viruses constantly change through mutation and sometimes these mutations result in a new variant of the virus. Some variants emerge and disappear while others persist. New variants will continue to emerge.”

CSN student Bianca Kingham agreed that the decision to remove the mask mandate was made preemptively since it was made at time when the Omicron variant was still rampant.

“I am completely concerned about the strains because they’re extremely contagious and a lot of students touch things in the bathroom, student union, and even tables and seats,” Kingham said. “It’s important that CSN constantly keeps things clean.”

Despite the feeling of concern from some students, others have gained a sense of relief as the requirement for face coverings came to an end.

Another CSN student Andrea Loyola said that the decision made by President Zaragoza came at an appropriate time. “It’s clear that Covid is going to be around for a while so if people are really nervous for their health, then they should take their own precautions. Nobody is telling them they can’t wear their own masks.” This pandemic caused a strong division in the favor and opposition of masks, but while the future of Covid-19 is unknown, the students agreed that if cases rise, the mask mandate should be reinstated.

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