Enforcing masks on Campus
According to the UC Communications I students have received, masks are ‘mandatory’ on Campus at Alert Level 2.Why, then, are there so many students coming to Campus without masks, and not facing any consequences? Surely not everyone who is not wearing a mask has a legitimate reason not to wear one. Would UC consider giving Lecturers the power to ban students who are not wearing masks (for no reason) from lectures? After all, lectures are available online. Students who attend lectures in person should be doing their best to keep themselves and others safe. After all, Covid-19 safety requires a collective effort.
Kia Ora, thanks for your suggestion. We as the UCSA strongly endorse the wearing of face coverings, not only because it protects the wearer, but because it protects others in the community. Because of this, we’ve been sure to play a strong part in messaging to students, instructing that wearing a mask in teaching spaces is an expectation of them. You can see an example of this messaging here. However, in line with Government directives, the University maintains that “face coverings do not need to be worn by people with a disability or physical or mental health condition which makes it difficult to wear a face covering.” The often unidentifiable nature of physical and mental health conditions means it’s tricky when lecturers and other teaching staff are confronted by someone not wearing a mask. Similar to the way that bus drivers are unable to refuse entry to a patron refusing to wear a mask on public transport, lecturers and other teaching staff are unable to deny entry to students.
To mitigate the effects of some students taking advantage of this predicament, UC is requiring social distancing in lecture theatres, by ensuring students sit in every second seat. However, the UCSA maintains, and will continue to maintain, that under COVID-19 alert level 2, students should be wearing face coverings in teaching areas, unless they have a genuine reason not to. We understand this is a really tricky and potentially sensitive topic. It’s worth reminding everyone that if you aren’t comfortable, you can watch your lectures online and masks are mandatory in compulsory classes, such as labs. Alternative arrangements are made for those with a genuine reason not to.
Thanks again for taking the time to get in touch, we really appreciate it. Naku nā!