On Monday, March 7, 2022, Stockton University President Harvey Kesselman announced that the university will be relaxing indoor mask requirements as of Monday, March 28, 2022. Though masks will be optional in most on-campus spaces, a few restrictions remain in place; masks will continue to be required while visiting Stockton Health Services and during the classes of instructors who choose to maintain the mask requirement.
Furthermore, members of the university community who have not yet complied with Stockton’s vaccination requirements must continue to follow COVID-19 protocols for the remainder of the academic year.
Student Senate President Brianna Bracey, who was present when Kesselman made his decision, claimed that the administration’s choice came down to what was best for the student body. She stated that she and Kesselman are both “fairly confident” that the university is ready to safely transition away from the existing mask policy.
“Cases have been down, vaccines and boosters have been up, and after communicating with the neighboring universities we feel this is a step in the right direction,” said Bracey. “We stress the importance of ‘mask optional’ because we are aware that there are still students, staff, and faculty that may want to keep their masks on. And that is completely okay; we want to ensure they are also respected and feel safe on campus.”
Reactions to the change in Stockton’s mask policy have been mixed. Since the announcement was made, concerns have arisen regarding public safety, particularly in terms of the immunocompromized members of the Stockton community. Among those who are concerned for the safety of the community is freshman Sarah Coe, who stated that the timing of this decision is “ridiculous.”
“I’m sure there will be a surge in COVID numbers even if we were to keep our masks on, and taking them off is just asking for an outbreak,” said Coe.
There are also members of the student body who approved of the revised policy and see it as a long-awaited change for the better.
“I am looking forward to having the mask mandate lifted and I feel like it is a step in the right direction,” claimed sophomore Bryanna Storck.
Others, like sophomore Madison Martinez, saw the issue from a more lighthearted lens.“I’m intrigued to finally see if these guys are hot, or if they’re just mask-fishing me,” Martinez said.