Anticipated mask mandate lift should consider the immunocompromised

Photo courtesy of Jonathan Borba, Pexels.

The pandemic has begun to slowly diminish since the start of the new year, showing signs of promise that the world may soon return to a sense of normalcy.

On March 3, the school sent an email to students regarding the mask policy on campus and the anticipated “mask-friendly” environment starting on March 28, exactly a week after the student body returns from its spring break.

“At this time, the indoor face covering requirement remains in effect for Ramapo College,” it stated. “We anticipate transitioning to be ‘face covering friendly’ in certain areas on March 28.”

However, is it possible that we could be forgetting about those that are immuno-compromised? Even with the chance of lifting regulations on Ramapo’s campus, the notion of harming those with underlying health conditions is still very much present, despite the fact that in order for all students to be on campus, they must be vaccinated and receive a booster.

“I do think we need to start returning towards normalcy,” said William Jackson, a junior. “But I also think we shouldn’t stop the push for vaccines. They’ve proven to be effective and they provide protection for not only the people with the shots but the ones around them too.”

Jackson, 22, is a resident of Brooklyn, N.Y. and is in remission from cancer, as well as having an underlying heart condition.

This is the first academic year the school is letting all members of the student body reside on campus since its closure in March 2020.

Since then, Ramapo College has had constant communication with its student body regarding functions during the pandemic, and even those without underlying conditions feel the same way as Jackson.

“When I go out to the store or eat in the dining hall, I don’t wear a mask,” said sophomore Averri Bruff. “However, if the school asks me to wear a mask for the sake of the immuno-compromised, or just in general, I’ll gladly do it.”

Though it may seem like we’re seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, there is plenty of work to be done, and that includes keeping the immuno-compromised in mind.

If the school were to lift the mask requirement in its academic buildings, it would be best for the student body to remain masked until sometime in April, when both the school and the state have access to the data and science that support removing the mandate.

Does it seem wise for Ramapo to randomly select or anticipate a singular day for all students to remove their masks and for this pandemic to, essentially, come to an abrupt halt?

Personally, cautious measures are taken back home in order to protect our loved ones. Living with my 82-year old grandfather changed my perspective on how society should handle a global pandemic.

So, why should it be any different on campus until we’re absolutely positive we don’t need to protect those at higher risk anymore?

The student body may be worn out from the ups and downs, the guidelines and regulations, and the temptation of this biological hellhole coming to an end. However, the best action to take is to be certain that our environment is safe for all, especially for our immunodeficient friends on campus like Jackson.

Let us strive for the day where cases no longer need recording. Only then can life on campus and in our classrooms return to normal, and those with higher risks can live life freely without the risk of contracting such a catastrophic virus.