Letter: Make masks optional in classes

letter to the editor

It’s time to make masks optional in the classroom.

With extremely high vaccination rates across both the student body and the faculty, combined with only a .62% positive testing rate for the past week, this is a welcome sign.

With Durham County dropping their mask mandate on March 7 along with new CDC guidelines, Duke is moving in the right direction regarding masking policies.

What frustrates me and many of my colleagues is continuing to have to mask in class. The new policy going into effect on March 7 makes no sense in practice given that masks are still required during lecture.

What this policy says is students can unmask, eat together, walk the hallways, study in the library and congregate in other settings, yet are still required to wear a mask in a classroom sitting with the very same people whom we spend a much of our day around unmasked.

Duke has set an important COVID policy examples for other universities across the state of North Carolina and the country. It seems now, Duke is remaining overly cautious compared to other schools within the North Carolina system and other universities, many of whom are making masks optional, notably in the classroom. With new CDC guidelines, the dropping of the mask mandate in Durham County, other schools dropping their mask mandate within the classroom, the extremely high vaccination rate across Duke’s campus, and the mask fatigue felt by many faculty members and students, it’s time Duke make the mask optional in the classroom. Not doing so seems illogical.

Many are tired of wearing masks. We have done what we were supposed to do — vaccinate, wear, wait, wash. Of course, certainly, if individuals want to wear a mask, by all means, mask!. But many don’t, and have judged their risk to be quite low and are willing to move forward in their lives as we enter the endemic phase of this virus. 

Miles Hunt is a first-year in the Divinity School. 


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