Masks off: Simpson eliminates remaining mask mandate


Amelia Schafer

Masks are now optional everywhere on campus after the March 28 update.

by Amelia Schafer and Caleb Geer

After two years of life with COVID-19, Simpson will no longer require masks in any part of campus, including classrooms.

Previously, masks were optional everywhere other than the classroom, but as of March 28 classrooms are now mask-optional as well. Professors may still ask students to wear a mask, but students cannot be penalized for refusing. Additionally, there will no longer be a separate testing center, tests will now be in health services on the second floor of Kent. 

The decision had been up to the Faculty Liaison Council, which voted unanimously on Friday to change the existing policy. The faculty as a whole did not vote on the policy.

The Faculty Liaison Council includes ten faculty: the heads of every academic division, two at-large representatives, the faculty chair of the All Campus Budget Committee and the Faculty Chair.

“I know that there are faculty who have very much been looking forward to the point in time when masks were no longer required in the classroom, and I’m guessing that in those classes, very few people will choose to continue using masks,” COVID Management Team department chair Heidi Levine said. “There are other faculty who I think have been more reluctant to make that change, and I expect that some of those will be the faculty who are requesting in their classes that everybody continue to use masks.”

Some were confused about the timing of this change, as there are only four weeks remaining in the semester. Levine said that this decision has been discussed for quite some time, but faculty wanted to wait until after spring break to assess and make the final call. 

“I know that among the factors that they were considering were whether or not we had been seeing spread that we could trace to different classrooms,” Levine said. “And they also looked at the rates of COVID cases on campus in general and also in the community. Our case counts have been so low over the past few weeks, the community spread is low and all of that seems to point to a decreased risk.”

Senior Dalton Roberts said he understood the decision but didn’t fully understand the timing. 

“I’d say being more careful is probably going to be more advantageous at this point, especially towards the end of the semester and we’re going into summer. People are just coming back from spring break,” Roberts said. “Hopefully no one’s getting sick but going into summer I think it would just be better probably to keep the mandate or if they do drop it, say for this semester alone… So for next semester, teachers can then at their own leisure, put it in their [syllabus] if they require a mask.”

Sophomore Ashley Luna said she felt masks could have been done away with much sooner. 

“You go to Walmart, and everybody’s not wearing a mask there, or you go to a restaurant and people are serving you without wearing a mask,” Luna said. “So it’s [masks] kind of like not helping in a way because we’re still going off campus and then we’re coming back here, and we get to be in Kent without a mask or eating around each other. But yet in the classroom, we have to wear a mask.” 

Both students agreed that in terms of professor preference, they understood that some classes may still require masks. 

“So by all means,  if other teachers would prefer to keep doing that, I’m cool with it and if the college wants to drop its restriction [they can] by any means. I mean, the teachers can still put in the syllabus,” Roberts said. 

In terms of the graduation ceremony on April 30, masks are currently still required; however, according to Levine, that is subject to change. 

“I expect that that is something that the COVID management team is going to be discussing and considering whether or not we make any changes either for faculty or graduates or guests and we will certainly be communicating with graduating seniors about any changes,” Levine said. 

Roberts said he felt that mask usage at graduation should be required if vaccination rates are low. 

“I’ve never been through the graduation process, so I don’t really know what it’s gonna look like. But if we’re going to be intimately close with a lot of other people, I’d say by all means, low vaccination rates probably means we should wear masks,” Roberts said.