Students react to TCU’s mask-optional policy

Following+CDC+guidance%2C+masks+are+optional+for+the+TCU+campus+community+beginning+March+1%2C+2022.+%28JD+Pells%2FTCU+360%29

Following CDC guidance, masks are optional for the TCU campus community beginning March 1, 2022. (JD Pells/TCU 360)

By JD Pells and Tristen Smith

TCU students are now no longer required to wear face masks in most on-campus areas, according to an email sent by the Chancellor’s Campus Readiness Task Force around 3 p.m. Tuesday afternoon.

The email said that masks are now optional for the campus community and people can still choose to mask up if they’d like. Masks will continue to be available in campus buildings.

This announcement comes just 10 days shy of the two-year anniversary of TCU’s campus closure and shift to online classes at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Additionally, university professors are allowed to continue enforcing the mask mandate in their individual classrooms.

Masks will still be required in the Brown-Lupton Health Center and other on-campus health care facilities.

The task force said anyone experiencing symptoms, that has been exposed or tested positive for COVID-19 should continue to wear a mask while on-campus.

Campus reactions

For some students, faculty and staff, the news came as a long-awaited breath of fresh air, and, for some others, it came as a surprise.

“Honestly, my first initial thought was that it’s kind of poetic,” first-year writing major Jack Westerman said.

TCU’s peer universities, SMU and Baylor, had instituted mask-optional policies on their campuses before TCU.

“People are starting to become more acclimated to the pandemic and living in it and moving on,” Westerman said.

Some students and faculty weren’t surprised by the email.

“I kind of saw it coming. The majority of times I see students in gatherings, they’re not wearing masks anyway. So the policy was kinda there as more of a rule as opposed to enforced [rule] in most places,” said Kinesiology Professor Dave Farbo.

Other students were surprised that the university would announce this change just days before spring break, a time when many students travel.

“I was kind of surprised,” said sophomore nutrition major Brooke Ashmore. “I was just in my micro-bio lab, and we were talking about we didn’t think it would get taken off until after spring break. But I guess we went for it now.”

Many students still agree to respect the policies listed in Tuesday’s email.

“If a professor insists, I’ll throw it on, but I don’t think I’m going to walk into a class with a mask too much anymore,” said Westerman.