As students begin classes this fall, Marquette University is still facing challenges brought on by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and in light of these challenges, the university should be commended for its recent decision to require face masks in indoor campus settings.
At the beginning of the summer, there were a lot of promising developments that students, faculty and staff would be able to resume classes in a more normal way. For example, the university began providing COVID-19 vaccinations on campus, and students were informed they’d be required to upload proof of their COVID-19 vaccinations before returning to campus for the fall, unless they had a religious or personal conviction that would prevent them from doing so. Marquette also announced that individuals exempt from getting vaccinated would have to undergo COVID-19 surveillance as well as fill out a daily COVID Cheq screening.
Our progress toward mitigating the pandemic took a turn at the end of July, with Marquette announcing it would be following the City of Milwaukee’s guidance to strongly advise everyone, regardless of vaccination status, to wear masks while indoors with people outside of their household beginning Aug. 2. This decision came with the rise of more COVID-19 cases due to the Delta variant, which has high levels of transmissibility and is twice as contagious as previous COVID-19 variants, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Most recently, the university announced that all students, faculty and staff are required to wear masks while in public indoor spaces on campus effective Aug. 17, according to an Aug. 16 news release. This decision was made in alignment with the Milwaukee Health Department’s mask guidance in response to an increase in COVID-19 cases due to the Delta variant.
Despite there being a decrease in vaccination rates across the state of Wisconsin since May, there has been an increase in reported COVID-19 vaccinations on campus, with the university announcing Aug. 30 that 92% of Marquette students enrolled for the fall 2021 semester have submitted proof of COVID-19 vaccinations as of Aug. 27.
Marquette is in a strange situation right now regarding COVID-19; while the majority of campus said they are vaccinated, only 49% of Milwaukee is completely vaccinated as of Aug. 30, according to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. Because Marquette is intimately connected with the Milwaukee community, the university should be commended for aligning with the City of Milwaukee’s COVID-19 safety guidelines. This decision not only protects the health and well-being of direct members of the Marquette community but also individuals who interact with students, faculty and staff on campus.
While we may not be at a complete return to normalcy right now, we have to be flexible in adapting to a new normal, whatever that entails. Over the past year and a half, COVID-19 has been unpredictable, and we can likely expect that to continue throughout this year.
As Milwaukee residents continue to get vaccinated, if the rate of COVID-19 cases begins to drop or plateau, there may be changes to Marquette’s COVID-19 protocol.
The uncertainty around the future of COVID-19 in the U.S. and in Milwaukee makes it essential we do what is necessary to protect everyone’s health and continue to slow the spread, such as wearing a mask in indoor spaces on campus, staying home if you’re sick and assist the Marquette University Medical Clinic with contact tracing.
Editorial topics by the Marquette Wire are decided at weekly meetings between members of the executive board. The editorial is crafted with leadership by the executive opinions editor. The executive board consists of the executive director of the Wire, managing editor of the Marquette Tribune, managing editor of the Marquette Journal, general manager of MUTV, general manager of MUR and ten additional top editors across the organization.