On Jan. 5, 2022 Eastern sent out an email stating that students and faculty are required to double mask inside buildings regardless of vaccination status. The guidelines of what masks to use and wear were a little confusing. However, due to follow up emails and links to the CDC’s website, students were able to see what masks they are and are not allowed to wear.
It is hard to lead an institution when life seems so uncertain right now. We are all tired and drained from this ongoing pandemic, which means we are tired and drained from having last minute Covid policy changes. Eastern decided to wait to release this policy change because no one knows how things will turn out. Covid cases could go down or they could skyrocket. Everything is uncertain but Eastern is trying to do what is best for the students.
Since it was last minute, students were left scrambling to find masks that fit the CDC guidelines or enough masks to double up. It can be hard to keep up with all the changes and information that Eastern is sending. The new policy shows that the school is trying to keep the campus community safe. Since the policy change was issued only two days before students were scheduled to return from break, it shows they put time and consideration into this change even if it is something they do not want to have to do.
However, having things change constantly can make students stressed because they feel like there is no control in their life. We all want to move on from the pandemic, which is hard when masks were not required for the fall semester and now they are required for the spring semester.
In addition, it is possible that these policies can change because Covid-19 is constantly changing. While we respect the university for putting the safety of students first, masks can make students feel cut off from their friends and classmates. We are social people and feeling disconnected from our classmates and professors can make it hard to feel like we are a part of the Eastern community.
People like stability and knowing what is going to happen next. Constantly changing policies does not help people, especially stressed college students needing to feel stable. People like control and when you feel like you have no control over your life, it can be hard to adjust.
Sending out the email a couple days before moving in seemed like an irresponsible thing to do. The omicron variant had been spiking since the middle of Dec. Since people were aware of the spike in cases, Eastern should have notified students sooner. It is unfair to change a policy days before students return to campus. The university gave students very little time to find the proper masks and prepare to wear them in all indoor settings.
However, some students are still having a hard time adjusting to this policy. Eastern is trying to keep the campus community safe, but their execution of this goal was extremely poor. Not only did they cause panic among students, but it also looked unprofessional on their part. We are approaching year three of the pandemic, the time of, “Covid is ever changing, and makes life difficult,” is over. Eastern’s top priority is to keep students safe, but last minute policy change means more panic and anxiety. And those are the last things students want to feel when beginning a new semester.
A photo EU’s student government posted on their Instagram reminding students to “mask up.”