Students react to USC Aiken campus mask mandate

Published: Aug. 18, 2021 at 6:57 PM EDT
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AIKEN, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) - Just a day before the start of the fall semester USC Aiken is making the decision to require masks on campus. It comes right after a ruling made Tuesday by the South Carolina State Supreme Court allowing the University of South Carolina in Columbia to require them.

For first-year students, the day before classes is a chance to walk around campus and walk to see where your classrooms are. But they won’t be able to do that without a mask. And the university will have reminders up all over campus. Students say that’s not the only thing on their mind before the first day.

“That’s one concern that I do have. That the virus is still going strong even though the vaccine is being distributed,” said Peter Flores, freshman at USC Aiken.

“I wonder if people are really going to be safe like we’re expected to,” said Katelyn Danner, freshman at USC Aiken.

For freshman like Peter Flores he’s optimistic the school is making the right decision to require masks.

“But now that the vaccine is being distributed and USC Aiken has thankfully required a mask mandate I feel like this school year is going to be better than last year,” said Flores.

This year USC Aiken is at capacity and has in-person classes. But upperclassman say these that can change quickly.

“They should just expect for anything to change. Anything can happen in the blink of an eye within the next two weeks possibly,” said Xavier Pierce, student coordinator.

The goal this year is to have a sense of normalcy while being as safe as possible. Masks are required in buildings, but not while walking around campus.

“I think everybody just needs to do their part,” said Pierce.

There’s a COVID alert system that will sense how much transmission is happening in the community that determines how the university will operate. In dorms all students need proof of vaccination, a negative COVID test 10 days before coming to school, or positive test in the past 90 days.

“It’s really trying to give students a sense or normalcy pre-Corona and while making sure that every student is staying safe,” said Pierce.

But even with every precaution there’s still some doubt that schools will stay open.

“I’m nervous of having to cut it short and having to go back home but hopefully everything works out like its supposed to,” said Pierce.

Students who don’t live on campus say they are worried about that community spread and they want to make sure that everyone is doing their part to be responsible when they’re off campus.

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