COVID on campus

Chancellor James Schmidt extends mask mandate until late November


Photo by submitted

The news column “COVID on campus” posts relevant COVID-19 news every week for UWEC students.

The number of students with an uploaded vaccine record ballooned to 7,357 students, bringing the vaccination rate to 77.7%. On and off campus student testing combined reported five positive tests on Oct. 31, according to the university COVID-19 Dashboard.

The 26 faculty that were tested on that same date all came back negative. 

Regardless of any progress that may have been occurring on campus, the Chancellor’s office sent out an email to the UW-Eau Claire students extending the mask mandate to Nov. 26.

“…I am announcing that the face mask requirement that has been in effect this fall semester will continue until November 26 at all UW-Eau Claire campuses,” Chancellor James Schmidt said in his email on Thursday, Sept. 30.

The mandate, which was originally scheduled to be reevaluated on Oct. 1, extends to students and staff while indoors or inside of campus transportation. The full official report can be seen here

John Klugow, a second-year actuarial science student, said he thinks there is a misconception regarding the extension of the mandate.

 “It’s confusing since they said (the mandate) would be removed once we reached a 70% vaccination rate.”

In actuality, scholarship money and other incentive prizes were promised to students by the school upon reaching the 70% vaccination rate, as can be seen on the  Vax Game Giveaway page on the university website.

However, similar frustrations regarding university communication were shared by Elizabeth Grenzow, a fourth-year business management student. 

“A lot of the messaging from the university can be a little ambiguous,” she said. 

When asked about the decision to extend the mask mandate, Grenzow said she supported the decision and said she wants the university to be stricter in its COVID-19 policies.

“It’s pretty important to keep masks in place for the time being … enforcement could be a little stronger and more uniform,” she said 

Carter Tierney, a third-year psychology student, expressed her feelings on how strict the university has been thus far on their mandates and what the reasoning may be. 

“Some universities require all students to be vaccinated and I wish we did that, but at the same time getting vaccinated can be a controversial issue,” she said.

Katie Wilson, a health educator in the office of health promotion on campus, supervises much of the advocacy surrounding vaccine documentation and the spreading of vaccine information.

Wilson said she was on a call in which the mask mandate was discussed, which also covered who was consulted in the final masking decision.

“Some people were consulted around campus,” Wilson said. “Shared governance leaders, administrators, people from different departments, and the student senate were consulted on what we should do with the mask rule.” 

Wilson said the UW-Eau Claire campus should still be using face coverings indoors, as the Centers for Disease Control and the health department have said that the university is still an area of high COVID transmission. 

“We are always looking for ways to make it easier to make healthier decisions and looking for ways to have easier access to information, surrounding vaccines and protocols,” Wilson said.

Wilson also had a message for the students of UW-Eau Claire.

“Often we do tend to communicate with decision makers when we don’t agree, it’s important to communicate when we do agree as well. Be proactive and be involved,” She said. 

If you think you have come in contact with an infected individual or are displaying symptoms, visit the Student Health Services page to make a testing appointment. 

Obadiya can be reached at [email protected].