NDSU drops requirement on masks in classrooms; mixed emotions arise

Students at NDSU give their perspective on the end of the mask requirement in classrooms

As of March 7, 2022, North Dakota State University President Dean Bresciani announced masks are no longer required in classes. The CDC now categorizes Cass County’s COVID Community Level as “low.” 

On Tuesday, March 8, NDSU reported a total of one confirmed positive case (one student and zero employees). Cass County currently sits at a total of 53 active, positive cases, according to the North Dakota Department of Health.

Students throws mask away on campus.
Anne Kesler | Photo Courtesy

“A lot has changed since those dark first days of the pandemic,” Bresciani stated in an email. “We now have vaccines and treatments that dramatically reduce the likelihood of severe illness and death.”

Faculty members are allowed to require masks in their individual classes and expect that students will honor their decision. For those who are not yet comfortable with taking off their mask in public, Bresciani says every person should wear their mask and “feel supported doing so.”

There are students who have pushed for the mandate to end for a while now and those that think masks should still be required in close quarters.  

Breanna Hosman, a sophomore at NDSU that led the Anti-Mask Mandate protest on campus last fall, has long awaited this announcement along with students who follow her beliefs. 

“We have rights as students, especially in a public university funded by the state, to be able to decide whether we wear a mask,” said Hosman. “I think it’s fantastic that there is no longer a mandate and that the students and professors have a choice, but there should have never been a mandate in the first place. It was an overreach of presidential power.”

Last fall, Hosman teamed up with Carter Eisinger and rallied students who felt the mask mandate hurt their individual rights. As an education major herself, Hosman says having to wear a mask while trying to receive your education is one thing, but having to teach a class in a mask is another. 

“Honestly, it was not a good thing for our campus. We need face-to-face, we need people, we need interaction,” said Hosman. 

After almost two full years of being fully masked in classrooms, students are now seeing some of their classmates’ faces for the first time. Hosman says it feels like a “breath of fresh air” and she is excited to have real human connections again. 

For most students on campus, the lifting of the mask requirement is a relief, but others wish it would have stayed in place until the end of the spring semester. 

Angelana Quanbeck (she/her, they/them), a junior who transferred to NDSU last semester, remains wearing her mask in all of her classes to protect the people close to her who are immunocompromised or are worried about contracting the virus.  

“I think the biggest thing to me is it being mid semester, I feel a little blindsided and that I don’t have time to figure out how to handle it,” Quanbeck said. “I think the administration could have given us more of a heads up.” 

Since the requirement ended, a majority of the students and faculty decided to shed the masks completely on campus and in classrooms. For people who are not yet comfortable being around others without their mask, this creates a problem of how they will attend their classes.

“Mostly, I am concerned for people who are not feeling safe to go to class anymore,” Quanbeck said. “For example, someone who is very dear to me skipped a class yesterday because no one was masked up.”

Quanbeck feels that NDSU could have better prepared their new guideline to fit the needs of all students. 

“It would be a different story if the university had laid out a plan for everything to be available on Zoom for students who did not feel comfortable coming back to class,” said Quanbeck. “What are you supposed to do if you can’t go out and expose yourself and you can’t attend on Zoom.”

Professors can find different ways to suit the needs of their students who do not feel comfortable coming to class by making everything available online. This would be a struggle for the design of some classes, but for others it is an easy adjustment.

“For people who don’t feel comfortable coming to class, talk to your professors or reach out to the administration and let them know, ‘This is my situation, I still care about my education and want to do the best I can to get it.’ This is not what any of us signed up for and certainly not what I signed up for.”

Quanbeck hopes that the administration will reinstate the mask requirement if numbers begin to rise again. 

To keep the case count low in our area, the CDC recommends to stay up to date on vaccines and to get tested if you feel symptoms. If our county should move into the higher categories, higher precautions will need to take place. 

For more information on COVID case counts, visit the CDC website, the North Dakota Department of Health website and NDSU’s COVID-19 Cases and Reporting Procedures web page. 

Leave a Reply