Mercy Drops Mask Mandate After Spring Break


Mercy College terminated its indoor mask mandate on March 28, the day students returned from spring break. 

Mask wearing will no longer be required in offices, meeting rooms, public spaces, and classrooms. Students involved in lab-based courses, such as those done by the School of Health and Natural Sciences will still be required to wear masks.

“This is to simulate the experience of working in the health professions and to maintain student safety when working in close proximity with others,” said Mercy President Timothy L. Hall in an email.

The app screening requirement, which needed to be shown before entering every campus building, has also been discontinued. 

The Director of Health and Wellness, Colleen Powers , explained the school’s reasoning behind this.

“We instituted these changes following the NYS governor and NYC mayor announcing plans to relax masking policies.  This was following guidance from the NYS Department of Health and the CDC stating if you are in an area of low transmission, you can relax the policies – Westchester county and NYC are both areas of low transmission.”

Vaccination is still a requirement and if a student has not been vaccinated yet they will not be permitted to go to class or enter any Mercy campus for any reason. The option to wear a mask is available and all members on campus are being asked to respect their desire to do so.

Although this comes in alignment with Mayor Eric Adams decision to drop the mandate, a large number of students are adamant about continuing to wear masks.

Alexis Jefferson, a health care professional working as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) and a student at Mercy, believes it is too soon to be eliminating the mask mandate.

“Safety and health should come first and a lot of people don’t think about that because they want to be comfortable.”

She understands how easy it is to rip off the mask because it may be annoying to wear or hard to breathe under it. However, she also stresses how this lack of awareness allows for new variants or strands to be created and spread. 

Afrina Rethe, another student, agrees with this perspective. “We’re still far from being back to normal, -whatever that means now. The only thing this change does is set us back from being prepared for when a new variant inevitably forms.”

Some faculty agree with that sentiment.

Dr. Isabel Grayson, an English professor at the college, isn’t in support of the new change. She did not support the decision and apparently, in the break room, a lot of other faculty agree with her, she claims.

Coincidentally, this change occurs as New York City experienced a rise in cases due to a new form of the Omicron variant. As of April 2, there has been a 55 percent increase in people who are positive for COVID.

Despite this, it seems there are many others who don’t share these same sentiments regarding masks. On the Monday after the break, Mercy saw a campus of multiple new full halved faces. 

Tyler Barow, a sophomore at Mercy whose beginning years at college were spent online and masked up, couldn’t wait to take the mask off.

“I spent my last year of high school online, and my first years of college masked up. This drop of the mask mandate is the first step towards things getting back to normal. I’m going to take advantage of that.”

Justin Alston is also in support of the drop. “The real problem lies with vaccination. I know you can still catch it when you’re vaxxed but it’s less likely. Since Mercy already made it a requirement to even enter campus, this shouldn’t be a problem.”

He reiterated a point similar to Barow, saying we can’t live a life of fear anymore, at some point things have to change.

For now, Mercy is maskless. The numbers are still being watched by the board and policies will be adjusted as needed.

Powers says COVID-19 is still an active concern despite this new big change.

“I wish I had a crystal ball to predict, but we must remain aware of the levels in the community around us and what is happening.”