As students return to campus, some professors and departments choose to keep safety in mind by putting up mask requirements for their respective classes.
While individual faculty members have to make a request for a mask requirement for each class departments such as biology and art and design have collectively made the decision to keep masks in their classrooms.
“We wanted to give people an option,” University Provost Dr. Robert Rhodes said. “Early on, before we had anyone back on campus, it might have been too early to make the call of requiring masks, but it would have best for them if they could.”
Despite individual professors requesting masks in the biology department, the department as a whole sent a request to the provost office, citing science and safety concerns in their memo.
Dr. Jennifer Huddleston, biology department chair and associate professor, said that they are following the scientific and peer reviewed studies to make this decision.
“In these studies, it is all continuously telling us the same story, that masking reduces transmission.” Huddleston said.
The Office of the Provost and ACU did watch what other universities were doing in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. While ACU strong recommends getting vaccinated, there will be no vaccine mandate in the near future for campus. However, if there is a surge, there is a possibility for a new mask requirement.
“We meet as an emergency response team three times a week,” Rhodes said.“We monitor numbers and if something was to occur or there was a surge in cases, there would be steps to follow such as requiring masks again.”
While there is no campus wide requirement, the Office of the Provost and ACU promotes the safety in students when they made the decision to make it up to the professors. Students are encouraged to be responsible about their decisions.
“We want to balance things very carefully,” said Rhodes.“We want an environment where students can have the full ACU experience and that they are safe. I think so far when you look at our numbers we have struck that balance well, but we know that can change.”
The biology department said in their memo that they want students to adopt a life of care for others, and emphasized science is what the decision was based around.
“We don’t know as a larger community if it is helping,” Huddleston said. “However we are hoping that transmission is not going to happen in our classrooms.”