Students react to mask mandate removal


Jesse Barber

A group of masked students gather on Sanford Mall, May 22, 2021.

Ethan Hunt and Cameron Stuart

Students returned from spring break to a maskless campus Monday after App State ended its mask mandate March 7. 

The university community expressed mixed feelings about removing the mask mandate. Some support ending the mandate despite what they consider “poor timing.” Others have created petitions and protested

Everts’ announcement came after the UNC board of governors ended mask requirements for all schools, and Gov. Roy Cooper encouraged local governments to ease restrictions.

“I personally am not comfortable with it being lifted, especially in my classes. I noticed today that a lot of people are not wearing them,” said Emily Gaurdado, Latin Hispanic Alliance member. “I don’t think it was the best choice to do it before spring break.”   

Guardado expressed concerns over the mandate ending during spring break and said she will continue wearing her mask. 

“I mean, truth be told, when Governor Cooper decided to say local ordinances don’t need to have a mask mandate anymore, that took away a lot of the legitimacy the UNC System had,” said Stephen Leverton, App State College Democrats president. “I can’t say I’m surprised we got rid of our mask mandates.” 

Leverton said he felt the timing was “idiotic” but that a return to normalcy was inevitable.

Konnor Bailey, senior political science major, said he felt the change was “long overdue.”

“I understand that protection is important but I think it just comes a time where we have a much greater knowledge about the virus than we did a year, two years back,” Bailey said. 

Hunter Clark, SGA general senator and political science major, said although students have the right to oppose the changes, they shouldn’t point their anger at the chancellor. 

“I’m certainly not one to defend Chancellor Everts. I can promise that,” Clark said. “But I know from being in SGA this was not Chancellor Everts’ call. This was something she had to enforce from the board of governors of the UNC System.” 

Michael Ensalaco, junior banking and finance major, said he hasn’t been wearing a mask since the mandate ended. 

“I think the first few months there was a lot of fear going around, so I think masks comforted people to go out in public and still go and get groceries and do the basic necessities,” Ensalaco said. “But now, I think we’re past that and looking to get back to normal.”

Peyton Joyner, BSA public relations chair, said initially, she was opposed to ending the mandate and signed a petition to reinstate it; however, her opinion has changed. 

“I think I’m just supportive of what other people decide. If you feel comfortable to wear your mask, no shame. If you don’t want to wear your mask, then no shame,” Joyner said. 

There were four active COVID-19 cases reported on campus in the last five days.