Return of the Mask


With the rise of the Delta Variant of COVID-19, Piedmont University has reinstated their mask mandate. // Photo Courtesy of Tim Mossholder on Unsplash.

Hannah Osborne, Staff Writer

Piedmont University’s action against COVID-19 is back in full swing with its second vaccine clinic and the reinstatement of the mask mandate for all students, faculty, and staff.  

As of July 30, Piedmont University planned to return to campus with the retraction of the mask mandate. The mandate had been limited to only unvaccinated students, while vaccinated students were only recommended to wear a mask. This drawback was only momentary. Five days later, as the first students made their return to campus, the protocol was reinstated that all students were required to wear a mask in indoor areas where social distancing was not possible. 

On Sept. 1, the protocol was revised once more to enforce the policy in all indoor areas, regardless of ability to social distance. The new policy also required unvaccinated students to wear masks at all times when on campus (aside from personal living space). Vice President of Student Life and Leadership, Dr. Kim Crawford, leads the COVID-19 Taskforce. 

The efforts made by the task force are for the benefit of the community, Crawford states, “We are trying to protect all of our campus community members and feel this will help slow the spread and keep our families safe.” 

The mask mandate and daily lion check are two ways the task force are working to achieve this goal.

On Wednesday, Sept. 9, Piedmont University hosted a clinic for students to receive the second dose of the now FDA-approved Pfizer vaccine. The clinic has provided the opportunity for any eligible student to receive their vaccine. 

Dr. Julia Behr, Dean of Piedmont College Nursing and Health Sciences, voices her concern stating, “This is a public health emergency. The vaccine is approved and is safe. Vaccination is not just an individual decision, it is also for the health and safety of those in our community.” 

For any hesitancy or concerns, Behr recommends visiting the CDC or WHO (World Health Organization) websites for reliable information regarding the disease and the vaccine.

Students attending the university are not required to be vaccinated, though it is, “HIGHLY encouraged for both students and employees,” by President Mellichamp. Between Aug. 2 and Aug. 27, 40 total cases were reported from the Demorest campus. This is a 100% increase from this time last year according to the “Living Like a Lion” newsletter. Behr comments on the fact that the “newest trend” with the illness is that “patients are getting younger and sicker,” putting college students more at risk as they live in such close proximity to one another. 

Schools across the country are all taking preventative measures in hopes that students will not be sent home and return to online learning once again.