With UTA’s decision to continue COVID-19 protocols until May 31, some students say it makes them feel safer on campus while others consider it an infringement.
The university’s COVID-19 protocols include requiring face masks for all students, faculty, staff, vendors, suppliers and visitors while on campus, as well as keeping classrooms and dining spaces modified to encourage social distancing.
The university announced Tuesday that the current protocols will remain in effect through May 31, at which point they will be reassessed.
This comes after Gov. Greg Abbott announced an executive order on March 2 that ended the statewide mask mandate and opened all businesses at 100% capacity.
Architecture senior Sergio Arredondo said he understands that some people like to have the freedom to choose to wear a mask, but the high number of COVID-19-related deaths over the past year underlines how important it is to keep the mask mandate.
“I’m happy that we’re keeping it,” he said. “It will keep the majority safe.”
Nursing sophomore Carolina Tripp recently got her first dose of the Pfizer vaccine but still wears double masks whenever out in public.
She said she’s glad that UTA decided to continue enforcing masks on campus.
“Honestly, it’s such a relief,” she said.
As of Wednesday, UTA has reported a total of 435 COVID-19 cases since March 14, 2020. The university has reported 14 cases since the beginning of this month.
Alex Hummer, business marketing and management junior, believes that wearing a mask should be an individual choice, especially now that Abbott lifted the statewide mandate.
He said it’s not right for the university to oppose the governor’s decision.
“They don’t have any more authority [than] the governor,” he said.
Hummer said that because he has asthma, it’s difficult for him to do certain things like working out on campus with a mask on.
Communications studies junior Bonny Kress said she supports Abbott’s decision to lift the mask mandate but also supports UTA’s decision to keep their protocols.
“Anything that we can do to stop the spread of COVID is a good thing,” she said. “College students may not think it’s a big deal to pass [the virus] around to each other… but I feel like there are probably other people on campus that it might be detrimental to.”
Communications freshman Ward Sakeik said she realized how important wearing the mask is after contracting the virus in December.
“Keeping the mask is the safest thing we can do,” she said.
Sakeik said she would only support removing mask mandates when cases are extremely low and vaccine distribution is sufficient.
“But right now, I do think since everyone is trying to get back to normal, I feel like we’re trying to get back to normal really fast.”
The university continues to offer free COVID-19 testing on campus from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday at 435 Spaniolo Drive in the College Park District. Students, faculty and staff can make an appointment through the UTA portal on Curative’s website.