Let The Masks Drop: Landmark’s Big step Towards a Post Pandemic Campus

John Vasquez and Jack Belinski

Landmark can breathe a little easier. Ever since the pinnacle of the 2020 Covid 19 pandemic, the operations and campus life of Landmark College were turned on its head with numerous precautions and restrictions that made the average Landmark Student’s experience not the most adequate.

With the need for monthly mandatory nasal swabs along with a very restrictive quarantine. Some students have felt overwhelmed when they have gotten themselves settled into their dorms. Along with limited movement for students to go into each other’s dorm’s as well as attended social gatherings and events, the campus typically has to offer. For newcomers on our campus, it may not be the college experience they were hopping for.

As enter our second year of covid, Landmark has continued to stay headstrong with keeping its campus covid free. For example, is extending the mandatory mask policy despite the rest of the State of Vermont dropping it. Though these policies have been effective with preserving the health of student and staff on campus. Student have expressed disgruntled concern with feeling these measures were limiting their freedom of movement along with campus administration previously proposing mask-optional during the previous Fall 2021 semester. Only for mask optional to be postponed for an indefinite later date.

Finally, after months of waiting, to everyone’s long awaited relief, the mask optional policy was initiated on Wednesday March 23, with a resounding no setbacks. Many students have expressed positively to this new step towards a post-pandemic campus with this measure taking place.

Interviews from a pair of different students on campus have shown relief and return to normal with since it’s been enacted. A quote from Mars Prigal says, “ I think it was the right thing to do now that COVID was lessening and there weren’t many cases of it… I don’t think I have any concerns about it because no one here got it, but I think it’s always smart to stay clean.” Ben Heath expresses, [Mask optional liberating, reliving and nice for a change], with the added caution, “There are some concerns about the possibility of an outbreak on campus, especially now that there are variants of the covid virus out there like delta-cron.” nonetheless positive overall.

An official statement made by President Peter Eden states the following: “When this entire challenge started two years ago, we were determined to follow scientific and medical facts, and recognize “gray areas” related to fear, anxiety, etc. brought on by the huge magnitude of the pandemic crisis.” As expected, Landmark adhered to the guidelines from the CDC and VT state, carefully aligning its restrictions, policies, and practices with such, believing it’s unique size and structure would provide be advantageous in terms of reducing covid-related risks. With the added caveat that Landmark college is very small and located in rural state, meant that chances for infection were low as they were.

Likewise with the rollout of vaccines, masking, and testing helped further regulate the chance of covid ever spreading on campus. Recent data, for our local county has shown that going mask optional would not be so easy. Though we have high vaccination rates and the multiple viral subvariants such as delta and so forth, led administration to keep mandatory mask policy up for safety concerns.

Peter Eden states, “ As always, we sought input and feedback from the LC community of students, families, staff, and faculty, and we thought hard about any related mask-optional policy…we felt it most appropriate to take this action and also to put the onus on individuals…and we asked that the community respect others’ wishes and practices.” As covid-19 becomes an everyday normality and possible permanent part of our lives such as the flu. A general move forward to the management of it living with us is through, good health and safety practices outlined my medical science. Eden finalizes his statement, “ Personally and professionally, I am so relieved that LC made it through the worst of the crisis, proud of everyone, and feel a bit liberated on many levels.”