Sidewalk Symposium: Updated ProtecTU protocols

Students weigh in on optional indoor face coverings

New ProtecTU protocols went into effect on Monday, March 7, no longer requiring students to wear masks in indoor campus spaces. An email sent by Tess-Coody Anders, former Vice President of Strategic Communications and Marketing, on February 28 stated that this update was supported by Trinity’s clinical advisors and the Health & Wellness Workgroup because Trinity has reached the “green” threshold. The “green” threshold indicates that the campus is experiencing less than 10 new cases per 7-day average, the campus vaccination rate is greater than 70% and community risk is low to moderate.

However, there are still exceptions to the updated ProtecTU protocols. As stated by the protocol, faculty and staff may require the use of face coverings in their classrooms and/or personal offices. Individuals who are unvaccinated and/or at high risk for serious illness are strongly advised to continue to wear a KN95 or N95 mask in indoor settings and large group events. Masks will be required inside of Student Health Services, the COVID Health Clinic, and the Athletic Training offices.

To see how students feel about the updated mask policy, the Trinitonian talked with students about their perspectives on the update.

“I think it follows the science that we have right now. I think it’s good that professors have some domain over it.” – Slaten Ballard, junior

Student sharing opinions on updated campus mask policy (Ashley Allen)

“I am still wearing my mask out of respect because I know some people still feel uncomfortable with it.” – Alejandra Cordero, first-year

“I sort of worry about people who are really concerned about masks because if only a few people in the class are wearing it, it doesn’t do as much good and I can recognize that puts them at a disadvantage. But I also kind of trust the school’s health people at the Nerve Center to be making the decisions that are what they think is best for the students generally.” — Katie Maloan, senior political science and international studies double major double minor in economics and French.

Student sharing opinions on updated campus mask policy (Ashley Allen)

“Well, in certain buildings I feel safer. For example, in CSI I know that there is more air circulation because it’s a science building. However in other buildings like Chapman, I do wear a mask.” — Ana-Maria Alvarez, first-year

The updated mask policy came into effect the Monday of spring break. Students raised concerns about a possible spike in COVID cases following the return of students from spring break travel.

“I think it is kind of dumb, especially to do after spring break because people might have gone places and brought COVID back with them, so it’s not really safe, and it’s also kind of uncomfortable being the only person in your class wearing a mask.” — Vivian Le, sophomore

Students sharing opinions on updated campus mask policy (Ashley Allen)

“I don’t think the policy makes any sense because sure, the Trinity community is really safe, but the greater San Antonio community is still suffering.” — Rebecca Wicker, senior political science major.

Many students stated they would continue to wear masks within the classroom setting. Some departments have made a collective decision to require masks in all settings. For example, an email sent by the Department of Anthropology and Sociology on March 14 stated all courses in the department would continue to require masks. The email cited the current COVID transmission risk in Bexar County and the desire to account for community members who have preexisting conditions that make them more susceptible to COVID.

“I’m taking mostly chemistry classes and all my professors, as far as the chem department, have mandated masks, so it’s really been no change for me.” — David Woolley, senior biochemistry major.

Student sharing opinions on updated campus mask policy (Ashley Allen)

“I feel like we are mostly vaccinated so there is not likely to be a peak or anything… We are mostly still wearing masks, which makes sense, you know, like longer periods of time and a small space.” — Taylor Yates, sophomore

“I don’t think the policy makes sense because sure, the Trinity community is really safe but the greater San Antonio community is still suffering.” — Emma Morgan, senior Earth Systems Science major double minor in Physics and Astronomy.