Governor Gavin Newsom announced last week that the mask mandate in K-12 schools will be lifted on March 12, in the most recent of a string of moves by state officials to loosen up mask requirements in correlation with decreasing numbers of cases and hospitalizations statewide from COVID-19.
The governor will also terminate many of his own executive orders regarding the pandemic by the end of March.
The statewide indoor mask mandate for fully vaccinated people in California was lifted on Feb. 16. Additionally, theme parks such as Disneyland and Universal Studios have announced that guests will no longer be required to wear masks.
The Coast Report Editorial Board believes Orange Coast College should follow in the footsteps of the state and remove its mask mandate.
The Coast Community College District has not announced any plans to change the mask mandate for the duration of the spring semester.
As it stands, a vaccinated K-12 student can freely attend school without wearing a mask, yet a community college student at OCC does not have that same freedom.
Statistically, K-12 students are the least vaccinated population in California, and college students are vaccinated at a much higher rate. If state officials have deemed it safe for K-12 students to attend school without a mask, it stands to reason that community college students should be allowed to do the same.
Furthermore, OCC’s first semester with students allowed back on campus since the start of the pandemic has already been met with concerns on whether or not faculty is actually enforcing COVID policy in classrooms.
The lack of consistency regarding mask policy at OCC can in large part be attributed to the mass confusion surrounding the issue. Residents of California are constantly hearing about mask mandates being lifted all over the state, but students and faculty at OCC are left having to figure out why their school’s policy differs from what California’s policies are statewide.
OCC simply does not have the means to enforce the mask mandate, especially outside of the classroom. Students walking around campus are free to choose whether or not to wear a mask, and even in classrooms, it comes down to whether or not the professor in the class cares enough to enforce it.
If OCC cannot truly enforce mask-wearing on campus, then it becomes more and more illogical for the District to continue to have a mandate that is not in alignment with statewide policy.
California is at a turning point in this pandemic era as diminishing COVID-19 rates have provided a light at the end of the tunnel for California residents, and a huge milestone in returning back to normalcy would be for college students to be able to go to school without wearing masks.
Not wearing masks on campus gives students the opportunity for better communication with each other, and allows for an easier teaching experience for faculty, which will only help create a better learning environment in the classroom.
Students who still prefer to wear a mask could still do so, but lifting the requirements would give students the opportunity to choose.
The state has already made it possible, and it is now up to the District to act. The mask mandate at Orange Coast College needs to be lifted.
The Coast Report Editorial Board consists of the editor in chief and section editors. One member of the editorial board writes the editorial and this rotates throughout the semester.
Editorial topics are pitched by all members of the board and a single topic is selected for each editorial. Each editorial board member votes on their position on the selected topic and the majority position becomes that of the editorial. In the event of a tie on the first vote, editorial board members engage in continued discussion and state the reasons for their initial vote. A second vote is then taken and the majority position becomes that of the editorial. In the event of a second tied vote, the editorial position will be decided at the discretion of the editor in chief.
For this editorial, the board vote on the issue resulted in a 4-2 majority of the board voting “yes” to the question "Should the Coast Community College District drop its COVID-19 mask mandate?" Coast Report publishes voting results to promote transparency.