Masks on, masks off: Simpson’s new mask policy

UPDATE: Effective Monday, Sept. 12, masks will no longer be required in classrooms


Kyle Werner

Simpson College is now one of two colleges in the state of Iowa, the other being Grinnell College, to have a mask requirement of any sort.

by Kyle Werner, Feature Editor

After over two years of living through a pandemic, Simpson students came back to a mask mandate for the first two weeks of class—but only in the classroom. This was decided by the faculty liaison council (FCL), meaning that the faculty are the ones behind this decision, not the COVID-19 management team (CMT).

Vice President of Student Development and Planning, Heidi Levine, noted that this two-week period is to serve as a trial run for the new semester and to gauge how the school will implement COVID-19 protocols going forward.

The current dominant variant, the BA.5 Omicron subvariant, is one of the most contagious strains of the COVID-19 virus and has had a 705 weekly case average over the past month in the state of Iowa. Warren County reflects an even smaller number of a ten weekly case average.

Simpson College is now one of two colleges in the state of Iowa, the other being Grinnell College, to have a mask requirement of any sort.

Between smaller positive case numbers and being one of the few requiring masks, Simpson students are conflicted about the decision to bring back masking, especially with the mandate lifted back late last March all across campus, including classrooms.

Community Assistant (CA) Tanner Tillotson has heard both sides of the masking issue, stating that, “some hate it and some prefer it. I think a lot of people have gotten used to not wearing their masks, so it isn’t fun putting them back on.”

Student Body Vice President Will Keck, shares a similar sentiment. “It seems to be more of a headache for students than anything else.”

Although the decision to bring back the masks has created confusion and conflict, Levine reminds students that, “throughout the pandemic, we have also seen less COVID spread on campus than many other campuses and I think our protocols are tied to that.” 

CMT states in the email sent out that, “if the number of positive cases exceeds 3% in one week, mask-use will be required in classes and recommended in other indoor spaces for two weeks, or until case counts drop below three percent.” 

This 3% positivity threshold has not yet been met. According to the COVID-19 dashboard, there are three active cases on campus or a 0.07% positivity rate. 

The total campus COVID positivity rate can be found on the Campus COVID-19 Dashboard on SC Connect.

“In the end, it’s just two weeks. Whether you hate it or love it, you should do what is best for our Simpson community,” Tillotson said.

Simpson College COVID-19 dashboard will continue to meet and update weekly. 

The college encourages masking when necessary, getting vaccinated, and continuing to follow CDC guidelines. 

For now, if you need masks, Health Services has KN95s available for students. 

The current COVID-19 plan can be found at