YSU makes decision on mask mandate, campus reacts

Local News

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Youngstown State University officials announced Wednesday that face coverings will be required indoors on campus regardless of vaccination status.

The mandate is effective immediately.

The decision follows a survey that was sent out to students and staff, as well as a discussion with local and state health officials.

The survey showed that about 77% of the more than 3,000 responses indicate being vaccinated for COVID-19.

Also in the survey, the suggested campus protocol most often mentioned was “Masking would make me feel safer.”

YSU union faculty held a protest last week when they thought the university may not implement the masking protocol.

The masks won’t be required if you’re outside.

“Now that we’re coming back to start the fall semester for the first time in 18 months, we’ll have a full group of students on campus and we want to be as safe as possible,” said Ron Cole, director of university communications.

By the end of the month, more than 10,000 students will be back on campus for in-person classes.

“I don’t think anyone loves the mask mandate, ,” said Kelsey Walters, a grad student at YSU.

The students will be doing it wearing a mask.

“I have to say, I’m quite upset. There’s just so much I don’t like about masks,” said Kyle Gamble, a junior.

Under the new guidelines, anyone on campus must wear a mask indoors except when eating. Faculty and staff alone in their offices are not required to wear a mask either, but anyone working out will need to wear a mask inside the campus gym

“For me, it’s like I don’t really want to wear it, but I will just to please people. But I’m vaccinated, so I don’t think there’s a need to wear it,” said Chance Merlin, another junior.

One student says she worries the mandate will dissuade people from getting the vaccine.

“People who got the vaccine are like, ‘Why did I get vaccinated if now we’re having this mask mandate?'” Waltes said.

With 77% of survey participants saying they’re vaccinated, some students say they feel safe with the vaccination alone.

“I see two sides. If you’re unvaxed and you get it, it’s just on you, and if you’re vaccinated, then I think you’ve done your part,” said Gamble.

But while Mahoning and surrounding continues continue to be high risk, the mandate stays.

“It’s really up to all of us individually working together to make sure we’re doing what we can to stay safe,” Cole said.

A vaccination clinic is scheduled on campus Wednesday, Sept. 8 from 8 a.m. to noon and Thursday, Sept. 9, from 1 to 5 p.m. A location will be released closer to the clinic date, YSU officials said.

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