As of March 1, masks are optional in open spaces on the campus of Frederick Community College. Masks are still required in classroom settings. (Photo by Aidan Shaw)

FCC students reflect on partial lift of mask mandate

With people living with mask mandates for two years, Frederick Community College students are getting a partial reprieve, thanks to newly released mask guidelines.

As of March 1, masks are no longer required in open spaces on the FCC main campus and Monroe Center, according a release from FCC intern President Thomas Powell. This does not apply to classrooms so students and teachers will still have to wear masks while in lectures or labs.

In early January, 33% of COVID tests would come back positive, according to the Frederick County Health Department, and because of this masks were either required or highly encouraged almost everywhere in the county. Because of the high positivity rate, FCC was classes were virtual for the first two weeks of the spring semester; classes began Jan. 24. According to data from FCHD released March 5, cases are the lowest they’ve been since the summer of 2021 at only 3.5%.

Last week, students mingling in the FCC Student Center were asked about how they felt about the decision to remove the mask mandate.

“I don’t have a problem wearing a mask at FCC if I am required to,” said Parker Baer, a 19-year-old sophomore from Braddock Heights.

Baer, a general studies major, also mentioned it is important to give people a choice if they wear a mask or not, and said wearing a mask is only really beneficial to elderly people or people who have pre-existing health problems.

When asked if he will wear a mask now that the mandate has been lifted, he said, “Probably not, now that I have the choice not to wear one. However, if someone asked me to put it back on then I will, such as a professor.”

Freshman Javier Depaz of Myersville, believes lifting the mask mandate is a good thing.

“I am glad that it’s only in classrooms, it was kinda annoying walking everywhere with a mask, it’s more comfortable,” said the psychology major.

Depaz, who said he had COVID in November 2020, said he will continue to wear a mask in school “only in the classroom, probably not walking around campus.”

He said he found the masks inconvenient because he likes to sip on drinks while he walks around campus. He doesn’t like having to pull down the mask every time he wants a drink.

However, Depaz said, if someone knows they are sick, they should be wearing a mask. The new FCC mask guidelines said, “masks should still be worn by individuals who are experiencing COVID symptoms.”

Spencer Moazad is a 17-year-old dual enrollment student who attends Middletown High School. He said he has no problem wearing a mask around campus,

“The mask mandate at my high school has been lifted as well so I will wear it for a little bit longer,” he said.

He also mentioned that he’s never had COVID but has had a scare, and that’s why he wears a mask everywhere he goes.

For 19-year-old Shirley Gonzales of Myersville, she said she doesn’t mind wearing the mask at school. Gonzales, who is a freshman pursuing mathematical education, said she COVID-19 in January 2021. That’s a reason why she said she will probably continue to wear her mask, “I’m scared of other people.”

Gonzales said she finds mask mandates no different safety laws.

“I feel like masks shouldn’t be seen as a bad thing, it meant for the good of people, not to harm them, like seatbelts, they are just a little of an inconvenience,” she said.

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