Campus community responds to USG face covering requirement

Abby Fuller

STATESBORO — Seventy percent of Georgia Southern students agree with the University System of Georgia’s decision to require face coverings inside campus facilities, while 25 percent disagree with the decision, according to a George-Anne survey.

The George-Anne shared a survey with the recipients of its email newsletter. The survey requested their thoughts on this USG decision and has received more than 750 responses from students, faculty and staff. 

When asked if they think it is a good idea to require face coverings, 316 students answered yes, 114 said no and 22 said they’re not sure. 

Many students expressed concerns about returning to in-person classes at all.

“I don’t think it’s safe for us to return to campus in the fall,” Mary Lynn Evans, a GS student, said. “Our COVID numbers are rising each day. I personally cannot expose my mother and brother because they are immune suppressed. If I have to make a choice between in person classes or seeing my family, I will choose my family.”

GS student Zachary Brown said, “I think classes in person should be optional so that students who feel they are at high risk will not be punished not wanting to go to in-person classes. That being said, I am very low risk, want in-person classes, and do not care about masks being required. I do not mind wearing one but I would much rather not because I am not concerned about getting sick. Thank you for keeping students updated and for taking everyone’s safety into consideration.”

Faculty and staff seem to be more firmly supporting the USG face covering decision with 96 percent of faculty and 88 percent of staff answering yes.

“This is a simple and straightforward activity that has been shown to reduce the spread of the virus,” Nikki Rech, a GS faculty member, said. “It is going to be difficult to pull students back on campus, in the dorms, in the classrooms, and remain constantly vigilant with social distancing and disinfecting. Face Coverings will make a huge difference, but they only work if the entire community follows protocol.”

The USG announced their new decision about face coverings on Monday, July 6, after they had received a significant amount of criticism from stakeholders across the state.

“Effective July 15, 2020, University System of Georgia (USG) institutions will require all faculty, staff, students, and visitors to wear an appropriate face covering while inside campus facilities/buildings where six feet social distancing may not always be possible,” the USG states on their website. “Face covering use will be in addition to and is not a substitute for social distancing.”

This requirement does not apply to when individuals are in their own dorm rooms or alone in offices or study rooms. Face coverings are also not required in outdoor settings that meet social distancing requirements. 

The USG website also states that people who are above the age of 65 or who have certain underlying medical conditions may request alternate work arrangements.

Abby Fuller, Daily Managing Editor, [email protected]