Students sit in Elkins Auditorium for HUM 212 with Professor Bryan Givens on March 7. Pepperdine lifted its mask mandate March 7, allowing community members — regardless of vaccination status — to choose whether they wanted to wear a face covering. Photo by Lydia Duperier
Pepperdine lifted its mask mandate March 7, allowing students and staff, regardless of vaccination status, to choose whether they wanted to wear a face covering on Malibu campus, following guidance from LA County.
The University still requires masks on public transportation and in healthcare settings, but not in classrooms, the library or the Caf.
Students said they were excited to see their peers’ faces and facial expressions, but also questioned whether the mandate was lifted too early.
“We could have waited another week and I’d have been alright with it,” senior Carl Langholz said. “Playing it safe never hurts.”
Seaver College returned from spring break March 7 — the same day the University lifted the mandate. The University did not require entry testing for students as it did in the past, but will require routine screening testing for at least two more weeks until March 21.
If the University decides to suspend weekly testing after March 21, it will still provide optional testing for the community, according to a March 4 University Public Relations email.
Pepperdine’s COVID-19 positivity rate in 2022 has remained lower than LA County’s rate in 2022, Public Relations wrote in the email.
Pepperdine decided to lift the mandate based on this information as well as consultation from public health officials, according to the email.
“The University encourages all who wish to continue wearing masks to do so, and will continue to provide medical-grade masks for free,” Public Relations wrote.
With the change to masking requirements, students said classes felt different and abnormal.
“It was definitely interesting,” senior Peyton Lee said. “For some people, that’s not how I filled in the bottom half of their face.”
Lee said she didn’t mind wearing a mask before Pepperdine lifted the mandate, but was excited to be able to eat and drink during class again.
“I can also wear my glasses again in class,” Lee said. “I think that will be exciting because I’ll finally be able to see the board again without [the glasses] being foggy.”
Langholz said he enjoyed not having to wear a mask, but also understood why some people still wanted to wear them.
“With us just having a week off, it would have been a bit depressing to go back to having masks,” Langholz said. “But at the same time, everyone went internationally and travelled, so it’s a bit of a risk having it literally the week, the day, after spring break.”
Lee and Langholz said their classes were mixed on how many students still decided to wear masks—varying from almost half of the class to just a few students.
“There were probably 10 people, maybe less, wearing masks in a class of about like 50,” Lee said.
Students said they are learning to adjust again to not wearing masks and seeing their peers’ full face — a concept Langholz said he didn’t ever suspect having to encounter before the pandemic.
“I won’t have any excuse for not recognizing people without the masks now,” Langholz said. “But some people did still wear the masks, and that’s understandable. A lot of people feel differently about the masks.”
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