Story by Lindsay Hillstrom, News Editor
Photos courtesy of Aquinas College
On March 2, interim president Dr. Stephen Germic announced that Aquinas College will no longer require students and faculty to wear masks in public indoor settings. The new guidelines took effect on March 7, at the beginning of the college’s spring break.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, Aquinas College has adhered to the mask and quarantine policies outlined by the Kent County Health Department and the CDC.
“We have followed their guidelines throughout the pandemic and we will keep following their guidelines,” Germic said. “The Aquinas administration continues to carefully monitor the spread of the coronavirus on campus, as well as in the community as a whole.”
How does the suspended mask requirement impact students? According to Nick Davidson, vice president for student affairs and athletics, it may not change much in terms of current health and safety procedures.
“Protocols for quarantine and isolation have not changed and are still in compliance with Kent County Health Department/CDC guidelines,” Davidson said. “Students are still required to self report symptoms, exposures and positive tests so that we can respond in accordance with these guidelines.”
Germic echoed these statements, emphasizing the importance of reviewing the materials and announcements provided by the Kent County Health Department and the Aquinas administration.
“We are all concerned, but if we have to pivot back to masking and other measures, we will pivot,” Germic said.
He also urged students to take whatever precautions they deem necessary to protect themselves and others.
“Students should make their own decisions about their own personal mask use, especially in high density places,” Germic said. “We absolutely encourage those who believe it’s important to maintain masking measures to do that for their own personal safety.”
As of Monday, March 21, the state of Michigan reported an average of 1,385 new COVID-19 cases per day. At the height of the pandemic in January of this year, the seven day average was closer to 17,595 new cases per day. As the reported number of cases in Michigan has decreased, many counties have relaxed their mask mandates, Kent County among them.