Masking for a Friend

Students speak on EvCC’s mask policy and collective action needed on campus.

Across the country vaccinations are rising and states are lifting mandates following the CDC’s safety update. With enthusiasm of seeing the light of the pandemic coming to an end, the opportunity to work together is as important as ever.

EvCC’s response announcement on May 19 confirms safety is still paramount and students will need to continue to follow the mask mandate as campus reopens for summer and fall. With hands-on labs and sports stands moving toward normalcy, what do students think about the mask policy still remaining on campus?

“I am 100% FOR wearing a mask not just at EvCC’s campus, but in public and anywhere that requires it,” Aji Kanyi, EvCC student and dental hygiene major says. “We have to bear in mind that even though about half of Americans are vaccinated, that doesn’t mean this virus has gone away.”

At present, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee requires masks at K-12 schools, but higher education still awaits an updated announcement. According to Jennifer Rhodes, EvCC co-Interim Vice President of Student Services, for Summer and Fall, EvCC is anticipating guidance from the Washington State Governor’s Office, State Board for Community and Technical Colleges, Snohomish Health District and the CDC.

 “Right now, EvCC is requiring everyone who comes to any EvCC location to wear a mask,” Katherine Schiffner, EvCC Director of Public Relations says. EvCC President Dr. Daria Willis encourages students to continue to embrace the #MaskUpWA campaign wearing a mask to protect yourself, your loved ones and keep the community healthy.

Barnett’s job in an ER makes wearing a mask even more important to her. (Courtesy Photo from Naïna Barnett.)

“Due to my role as a nursing student and my job in an ER, I come in contact with people who will never be able to get vaccinated or have not had the opportunity to get vaccinated yet. I would never want to inadvertently spread COVID to them,” Naïna Barnett, EvCC student and nursing major says. “While I would love to believe that the only people going unmasked these days are vaccinated, I don’t, and I would rather err on the side of caution.”

These enforced regulations are essential measures as students come back to campus familiarity. In the coming months there will be the chance for many to return, and others to experience for the first-time, life around the courtyard, gathering with classmates and working face-to-face with instructors.

“I think we should wear masks and I have registered for a hybrid class over the summer. The labs are really important right now, and I feel like I need to get some hands-on learning inside the classroom,” Erica Rodriguez, EvCC Peer Navigator and nursing major says.

“As a peer navigator, a lot of students, especially with learning disabilities, have had a really hard time adjusting to online learning. I think for them to have some sort of option to be in-person is going to be really helpful.”

EvCC opening its doors does not mean all students need to come to a hasty decision to return however. Students unable to due to health, unprepared for an in-person environment, or choose not to wear a mask, will be very personal considerations to continue their education off campus. Safety is different for everyone and EvCC will continue holding classes online for those interested.

Rodriguez sees wearing a mask and the importance of it as a global health issue. (Courtesy Photo from Erica Rodriguez.)

“It’s pretty amazing that we’re all working together on this one thing and that we all need to do our part to move not only our school forward, but society forward. I feel like this is one of the first problems we’ve really tried to solve globally. Where everybody can agree there’s a problem and we all need to solve it. Whether for or against wearing a mask, to really understand the necessity is for all of us health wise,” Rodriguez says.

“I think history will look back on us and I hope they can say, ‘they tried their best,’ and not, ‘they just argued.’”

Students with questions can contact the EvCC Health email. If a student wants to request an accommodation, contact the Center for Disability Services email or 425-388-9272 for further information on how students can apply for disability-related accommodations.

Individuals seeking a mask exemption for reasons other than personal disability should contact the co-Interim Dean of Student Development Erin Carr or co-Interim Dean of Student Development and Director of Housing Mike Bowers.

If you have further questions, EvCC staff are here to help via phone, Zoom, or email.