Smiling Faces Return to Campus

Liz Day, Staff Writer

SPRINGFIELD, MA–As of November 1, American International College students and staff can be seen indoors on campus without masks.

Fully vaccinated students and faculty are allowed in classes, dining facilities, offices, the athletic complex, and dorms without a mask for the first time since the shutdown back in March 2020.

For students, it has been a long-awaited announcement. After talking to many students all over campus, everyone seems to be in very high spirits about the college’s new decisions.

Marissa Long, a sophomore from Somers, Connecticut, was ecstatic about the end of the mandate. “I love that we don’t have to wear masks,” Long said. “I feel free! Next, we should lift the mandate for clothes!” she joked. “But I really do love being able to smile and people can see it! I’m so excited everything feels more normal.”

As a sophomore, Long started her time in college right in the middle of the pandemic. She explained, “I felt like I wasn’t getting the full college experience as a freshman last year from all of the COVID restrictions–although class was easier online. I really like that everything is in person. I am a much better visual and hands-on learner!”

Long was not the only one who felt this way about the change. A transfer student from Montreal, Quebec, Antonella Mikolyuk, explained, “It feels good to finally be able to see a person’s face rather than being covered by a mask. Makes for easier conversation.” Mikolyuk, a criminal justice major, stated that before the new mandate and during the pandemic, the mask mandate was impacting her communication with others. “It affected classes by making all the courses remote and difficult to learn and interact with peers,” Mikolyuk said. “It made it difficult to have conversations with professors and peers.”

Rose McCaffrey, a junior who studies political science, public relations, and media communications studies, also spoke on the new mandate. “I am happy to not have to wear masks anymore. However, I find it convenient that I got my second head cold of the year within the first week of not having to wear a mask.”

The Springfield local explained that for her, the mandate wasn’t a terrible inconvenience. “I didn’t mind being in class with a mask,” McCaffrey said. “I really missed in-person school, so I was happy to be in person, even if it was with a mask.” McCaffrey added, “I was so happy the first day to not see people wearing masks and see everyone smiling.”

McCaffrey is not as optimistic as others about the longevity of the mandate. “I hope this is the last mask mandate,” she said, “but I wouldn’t be surprised if we have to wear one when we get back from Thanksgiving break.”

Marissa Long (left) and Rose McCaffrey (right) smile in the Hive!

Molly Leavitt also sat down for an interview and explained how excited she was to attend her nursing classes without a mask. She explained that before the new mandate, “The pandemic affected my nursing classes because it changed how our clinicals were set up. We had half of our clinicals online, and half of our clinicals in person. We don’t do as many hands-on things as we would have, which affects our overall skills.”

Molly was not a fan of masks. She made clear, “It was mainly just annoying to have to wear one, even if you were fully vaccinated. It made me feel like there was no point to getting vaccinated.”

Leavitt, when asked if she wished this was the last mandate, responded confidently. “I really hope so.”

The new mask policy is a move in the right direction. Most students are very excited to not have to wear them anymore. It has been a long pandemic, and a return to normalcy on campus is a good thing.