Mask mandate lifted at SUNY Oswego

Angie Brown on how social media shifts the minds of people about vaccines/boosters.

Oswego, NY- March 4, 2022, SUNY Oswego has decided that only students that are vaccinated and boosted are no longer required to wear face masks. It is subject to change based on metrics and conditions. However, the Oswego Spring Forward 2022 Guidance outlines that all SUNY Oswego students are required to be vaccinated and boosted to be eligible to return to campus Spring 2022.

SUNY Oswego now offers weekly rapid testing for all students and faculty who have not been vaccinated or boosted. Additionally, the school has also provided both Pfizer and Moderna booster appointments five months after their second dose of the vaccines and two months after the Johnson and Johnson vaccine.

“From a medical standpoint vaccines and boosters do what they’re meant to do. It doesn’t prevent people from getting COVID. It’s meant for someone not to get hospitalized. For the mask mandate as the virus has transformed, I don’t know the protection level of them now as it was in the beginning,” said Angie Brown, director of student health services at SUNY Oswego.  

There are still requirements even if a student is vaccinated and boosted. Students are still advised to wear masks when in an instructional setting required by a professor, in an office, in a healthcare setting, riding public transportation, in an indoor gathering of 5,000 or more individuals, and anyone who is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, and are in quarantine or isolation.

“I think there should be testing and if you need to get tested it’s a great thing that we have. I think masks should be removed entirely in my opinion just because if our campus is hundred percent vaccinated what’s the point then,” said Jake Czaplicki, COVID testing center advisor at SUNY Oswego.

All New York state schools have removed mask mandates from K-12 grades where universities have the option. The CDC has also outlined that people should only wear masks in indoor public settings of high-risk areas. Low risk areas can now be optional.

According to the New York Times, Oswego County is a moderate-risk area because of the positive rate of COVID-19. This county also has a low vaccine status. The school in itself has been experiencing low COVID-19 rates and therefore, has proceeded to follow the guidance from the CDC and the Oswego County Health Department.

“High risk areas are based on how many beds you have in a hospital, how many beds are being taken for intensive care, how many people in the community have COVID-19, and so all those factors go into making a decision of what a high-risk area is and in Oswego less people wear masks and less people get vaccinated,” said Brown.

SUNY Oswego will also be waiting for a two-week period after spring break to see any updates on the rise of COVID-19 patients and if the school is subject to transition back to masks.

“I think they waited too long because now we’re approaching spring break and people will travel and will be more exposed to it,” said Jake Czaplicki.

Students raised concerns over the vaccine and booster if it should be optional or required in an institutional setting.

“Rushing a vaccine and a booster when there isn’t much research on it and what the side effects are on it is a lot. It should be a choice for people. Maybe in 10 years if they come out and say the vaccine is good then it would be okay to require it in schools and established places,” said Czaplicki.

“I think overall the system of testing has come to be questioned for its accuracy which adds frustration and concerns. The target demographic is older adults aged 50 and up and those with health conditions so it would be understandable why mandates are highly encouraged upon them. I think the force that institutions placing upon the student body is very uncomfortable,” said Gabby Golfo, student at SUNY Oswego.

According to Angie Brown, social media has a say in how people view the news, some of which have come from uncreditable sources and creditable sources. It shapes the way an individual might feel about vaccines, boosters, and masks.

“I do feel that with our society’s progression and social media and all that there’s been a lot of mix of politics and science in all of that. That has made this very difficult for people to see past, to see things kind of from a different standpoint,” said Angie Brown.

SUNY Oswego will be following data counts on COVID to see if students can continue the no mask wearing update for vaccinated and boosted students, but until then students can follow the Oswego Forward plan.