La Salle institutes new masking policy


Kylie McGovern, Editor

Header Image: La Salle

On March 2, Interim President Tim O’Shaughnessy responded to the recently revised city mask guidelines explaining that, although the Philadelphia Department of Public Health issued an adjustment to its indoor masking policy, La Salle’s COVID-19 response team reviewed these revised public health guidelines and waited to update the campus community regarding any potential policy changes. Until that new update, the current indoor masking policy remained in effect. O’Shaughnessy continued to encourage COVID-19 boosters and vaccines because they remain the greatest tools for reducing severe illness in our community and returning to a more active campus life.

On March 4, just days after  the original update, O’Shaughnessy wrote to the La Salle community again to announce that “beginning Monday, March 7, La Salle University will transition to recommending, but not requiring, that masks be worn indoors. Everyone must continue to carry an appropriate mask with them at all times.” This changing mask policy follows the guidance of federal and local health agencies and was decided with the counsel of La Salle’s COVID-19 response team. 

There are still circumstances where masks will be required like on the University shuttle, in clinical healthcare settings and in the COVID-19 testing center. In addition, masks are required to be held in the event that an individual asks others to be masked in their presence. If asked to mask up, it is recommended students follow the request.

During the upcoming spring break (March 12–20), La Salle will likely see a significant portion of our community travel away from campus. Therefore, masks will be required for the five-day period immediately following the University’s spring break, the week of March 21–25, as a preventative strategy. O’Shaughnessy does, however, explain that “masks have helped limit the spread of COVID-19. If necessary, we will not hesitate to reinstitute a mask mandate in the event that we experience significantly increased case counts on campus or in the region.” 

As for other universities in the area and their mask mandates, many of these schools are on spring break. But, Temple University’s Senior Director of Health Services, Mark Denys, explained that “out of an abundance of caution, the university will still require the use of masks inside buildings when we return to campus next week.” Furthermore, Saint Joseph’s University’s president Mark C. Reed, Ed.D., explained on March 2 that “Given declining numbers regionally and nationally, our very high community vaccination rate and updated guidance from the CDC, City of Philadelphia and Montgomery County, the University will no longer require masks be worn indoors in all shared or common spaces at all times. Beginning tomorrow, March 3, masks will be optional on campus.” Drexel University decided that “despite loosened local mask ordinances, Drexel’s indoor mask requirement will continue at least through the end of winter term (through March 19, 2022) while we assess community needs moving forward. Masks are also still required on public transit throughout Philadelphia.” 

In speaking to a few students about the new mask guidelines, the Collegian’s Managing Editor David O’Brien kept his response simple, saying, “I’m glad we don’t have to wear them anymore,” but junior biology student Luke Szyszkiewicz explained that he “doesn’t like how confusing the different rules are between different professors and the university.”The Collegian’s Editor-in-Chief Jake Eiseman says, “I think dropping the mask guidelines on campus is a positive move. It’s in accordance with the CDC’s and the city’s recommendations and cases have been low on campus for months now. Giving people the option to take the mask off should be seen as a good thing overall, but there are bound to be a few bad apples. Many people will continue to wear the mask regardless, and some will remove them when they feel it is safe, but some will never wear a mask again even when expressing symptoms, and that is my main concern.” 

Editor’s Note: Although I am personally excited that we no longer have to wear masks because our cases are quite low, I think that these conditions should only prevail with high vaccination rates and requirements. I think that taking away the masks is a good decision for now and likely the remainder of the semester, but I hope the university continues to closely moderate cases and surges so that the campus’s health remains a top priority.

You look so stupid with your mask on your chin


Elizabeth McLaughlin, Editor

Header image: Olmsted Medical Center

Make a decision: mask or no mask? I’m going to leave the science up to the public health experts and virologists; I’m not interested in making a case for masks (even though I will continue to wear mine until the data shows that I don’t have to). Why am I not interested in making that case? Because everyone is getting unique information. There is no guarantee that I am reading the same news as my neighbor, and doesn’t that fact take away from its legitimacy as news? We lack a shared reality these days, and when we’ve got a killer virus on our hands, that fact is terrifying. But that’s not why I’m writing; that’s fodder for a later article.

The purpose of this article is to ask my fellow Lasallians to make a choice. If you’re going to wear a mask, wear it properly; otherwise, what’s the point? I’m trying to understand. Everything we do and wear sends a message, and the message sent by wearing your mask around your chin is that you don’t, in that moment, care to avoid contracting an airborne virus. I can understand wearing a mask properly and then pulling it down on your chin to eat or drink, or when you’re struggling to communicate and you really need the added clarification provided by seeing your mouth. But why walk around, why teach a class with your mask around your chin? I genuinely don’t understand.

It can’t be a form of “virtue signaling,” to use a buzzer term as of late. It can’t be, because what virtue are you trying to communicate? People who choose not to wear masks may look at those who do as sheep; as people who lack the values of personal liberty that so dutifully reinforce our social, political and economic fabrics. Some people who choose not to wear masks look at those who do as performative and over-reactive. Some people who choose to wear masks (in spite of the university saying we don’t have to) view those who don’t as pig-headed and selfish. Individual liberty and the collective good. Those are the virtues at conflict.

But wearing it around your chin? Pick a side. Do you believe you and the community are safe enough without the added barrier provided by masks, or do you believe we have to keep this up indefinitely? Pick a side, make a decision. Your mask is doing nothing for you on your chin, except for prompting me to write this article.

Campus COVID-19 Update


Kylie McGovern, Editor  

La Salle University student wearing a mask on campus

On Jan. 5, La Salle University released an update on COVID-19 and the spring semester. This notice included information about a booster requirement, updating vaccine information, testing, masking and student programming. Regarding the vaccine, La Salle University is requiring all members of the campus community receive a COVID-19 vaccine booster dose within 30 days of eligibility to minimize the number of community members who may become infected or need to quarantine because of exposure. Those who are vaccinated and boosted against COVID-19 will have more flexibility with quarantine and isolation protocols per newest CDC guidance. Some members of the La Salle community already have an approved exemption on file with the University and will continue to be exempt, but unvaccinated individuals must either double-mask or wear a KN95 mask while indoors per The Philadelphia Department of Public Health. La Salle University has created a deadline and community members must receive a COVID-19 booster shot and submit verification to the University by Tuesday, Feb. 15.

In addition, Once a member of the La Salle community has received the COVID-19 vaccine and/or booster, students and employees must update their vaccination records on file with the University. In addition, for non-residential students and employees, entry testing is available and strongly encouraged. Testing is available at no expense and without an appointment. In addition to residential student entry testing, The Treetops Café testing center has expanded the hours of operation. 

In addition, unvaccinated individuals are required to complete weekly testing. Students who do not comply with testing requirements will face disciplinary action through Student Conduct. Failure to comply with one test will result in a temporary restriction to campus. Failure to comply with two or more tests will result in suspension. Faculty or staff who do not comply with testing requirements will face disciplinary action through HR with action up to termination. However, there was a 95% vaccination rate as of Dec. 15, so only a small percentage of the community needs to adhere to this testing. 

Furthermore, masks continue to be a requirement in all indoor settings on La Salle’s campus. Since the omicron variant is more transmissible than previous variants, La Salle University recommends surgical-grade masks and KN95 masks. The University has a supply of surgical, N95, KN95, and University-branded cloth masks that are available to students and employees. Limited quantities of each supply can be obtained at the on-campus testing center at Treetops Café as well as in each residence hall security desk reception area and Union Information Desk. 

As for in-person extracurricular activities, student Organization Programs and Meetings will need to be virtual through the end of February. Student organizations are encouraged to wait on hosting in-person events until after February, after a review of the institutional positivity rate has been conducted. However, the university has identified some Office-led events to host in-person to provide some limited safe interaction, and student organizations will be permitted to table in the Student Union Lobby. Overall, with the week of in-person classes, La Salle is operating to best facilitate in-person learning while mitigating the risks of COVID-19.