Article written by Jessica Thao
On Thursday, March 17, staff and faculty gathered at the Husky Plaza for SCSU’s first in-person town hall after two years, regarding the removal of mask mandates and deeply thanking staff, students, and faculties for their endurance and support during these past two years.
According to Saint Cloud State Universities President, Robbyn Wacker, town halls at SCSU initially started due to the pandemic. Town halls operate as the main source of communication among staff, faculty, students, and occasionally parents to provide updates about how the school is functioning around the pandemic in regards to health and safety on campus. For example, SCSU town halls usually consist of updates regarding new solutions on how to deal with the pandemic (e.g.: wearing masks) and always have Q&A sections.
Town halls were held generally every week for the past two years. In the beginning, there were generally 700 individuals consisting of staff, faculty, and students who attended the virtual town halls via Zoom. Over the past two years, there was an average of 400 individuals attending these town halls.
During a personal interview with Rochelle Dyer, director of the Social Studies Education Department and edTPA coordinator, she expresses gratitude for everyone at SCSU who have followed the mask mandates and other precautions for the pandemic during the past two years. She says, “We have a very wonderful and caring community”.
Some potentially negative effects, Dyer says, about not having to wear masks anymore on campus could include, “[some] people on campus who have certain levels of discomfort with different protection precautions”.
It is known that mask mandates on SCSU campus grounds have been removed, but what about individuals who prefer to continue wearing masks for their own safety precautions? This decision will ultimately be supported by staffs and faculty for those who want to continue to do so – it is especially encouraged if you have minor colds or other sicknesses while being on campus.
During a personal interview with President Wacker, she expresses some potentially negative effects of wearing masks due to the pandemic has been that they muted our interpersonal communication with one another. In addition, it potentially made communication more difficult within the deaf communities on campus for lip-reading communications.
On a positive note, while we have passed the large waves of the COVID-19 the past couple of years, President Wacker says, “We must acknowledge what these two years have impacted – health, well-being, support, and being there for each other”.