ROCK SPRINGS — The Western Wyoming Community College District Board of Trustees voted to extend the temporary mask mandate until Oct. 19.
The board met for a special meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 21 to decide whether or not to extend the temporary mask mandate that was approved on Aug. 25.
Kevin May, a student senate speaker on behalf of the Student Government Association, presented the board with a statement concerning the students’ thoughts on the mandate.
“After discussion with members of the SGA and those of the student body, we recommend that the board require a mask mandate inside of the classroom,” May said.
He went on to say that they feel that if social distancing can occur in the classrooms, masks shouldn’t be made mandatory. May also said that they think students should be able to decide whether or not they wear a mask while on other parts of campus.
“So more or less, we would like the current mask mandate with a little more freedom to it,” May said.
Trustee George Eckman provided a rebuttal for May’s statement.
“When you say that you recommend that they have the freedom not to wear masks outside of the classroom, what about the occasions like in the theatre, music halls and presentations?” Eckman said. “Unless there’s social distancing between seats, it would still be unwise I think to not require masks.”
May said that the SGA members spoke about that scenario and agreed that it was a grey area.
“If it’s packed, the mask mandate would be wise to have. However, if it’s all spread out, I think that would be alright,” May said.
Stuart Moore, a member of the college’s staff senate, also provided a statement on behalf of the senate members.
Moore said that staff members would like the mask mandate to continue, but would like to remove the “ambiguity” from the previous mandate.
“They would like to not have to debate social distancing versus face coverings with students,” Moore said.
The board voted for the previous mandate to say that face coverings are required when social distancing is not an option.
President Dr. Kim Dale said that due to the wording of the mandate, if a student was social distancing, a teacher couldn’t tell the student to leave if they didn’t have a face covering on.
“Due to the wording, there could potentially always be ambiguity with the mandate. Unless it’s just as simple as, ‘you’re on this campus, and you have a face covering, then you’re in.’ That’s clear,” Dale said.
She went on to say that the previous vote by the board was more of a compromise.
“It’s part of the challenge we have. We don’t ask people right now if they are vaccinated,” Dale said. “It’s a situation where we are dealing with not enough information to make the most informed decision because we don’t know who’s vaccinated at all.”
Dale said that the administration recommended that the mask mandate should continue because it seems to be working.
According to a COVID-19 update released by the Sweetwater County District Board of Health on Sept. 20, the college had four total active positive cases.
They have 26 total recovered cases for fall of 2021.
Previously, the college held two vaccine clinics on Sept. 14 and 16, with nine people receiving the vaccine.
They will be hosting an additional clinic on Sept. 28, where 28 people will be receiving the second dose of the vaccine. The first dose of the vaccine will also be available on that day for anyone who would like it.