Last week, students returned to campus after seven weeks of online learning. For some students who started uni this year, this was the first time they had ever been on UoA’s campus/construction site.
Following the more relaxed government requirements at Orange, the University initially announced masks would not be required, only recommended on campus. But they later backtracked on this decision, now requiring masks to be worn indoors in lectures, bathrooms, and other spaces where physical distancing isn’t possible.
The Uni told students and staff they can choose to wear a mask in “lower risk settings”, which they framed as a personal choice that enhances everyone’s safety.
“Face masks continue to provide a simple, proven and effective way to protect ourselves and others from COVID-19, particularly those especially vulnerable to the virus.”
Craccum spoke to students on the first day back about how they felt being on campus despite the threat of Omicron, with some students stating they weren’t aware of UoA’s updated mask policy, or that vaccine mandates were no longer in place on campus. Do the benefits of coming back to campus outweigh the heavy-chested risks of Omicron? Craccum investigates.
Alexander, Postgraduate Psychology
“I’m immuno-compromised, so it’s a big risk for me to come back onto campus. Masks are great and everything, but if you’re going to stick everyone in a room together for two or three hours, there’s still a high risk.
“If I could do all my classes online, I would, but it’s kind of the process you have to go through with the normalisation of Covid. For postgrad, it seems like it’s up to each lecturer to decide if a class will be held in person or online, and it’s a hassle to figure out which courses you need to come in for. There’s not much flexibility, and it would be better if UoA had a consistent policy.”
Courtney, TFC Fondation Chemistry and Biology
“I’m still nervous about COVID. It feels a bit premature to be back this soon. But It’s great to be here.”
Emily, Law and Global Studies
“I was excited to see Tart Bakery open up and have good vegan food on campus. I’m happy masks are required. I think vaccines not being required is a little lax unless people have medical exemptions. Especially as we have a Med School and a Science Department, it feels inconsistent to ignore what they’ve been saying.”
Erica, TFC Foundation
“I’m actually excited. I love it. Mentally it makes me feel so engaged getting back to that feeling of school life again. I’m happy to wear a mask not just for me but for other people’s safety. You can’t be selfish.”
“To be honest, I like online better. I feel like we should go back into another lockdown. It’s too scary.”
Isabella, Ancient History and Latin
“I was a bit worried when wearing masks were only recommended, and I thought people wouldn’t do it. But it’s good to see people masked up, especially in the smaller lecture halls. It’s been good seeing the Clubs Expo and hanging out around the Quad when it’s been really dead for a while now.”
“I’m enjoying being around people again. Zoom was very isolating for me and I need to be around people to feel like a normal person. I’m not super keen on the wearing masks inside thing, honestly just for very vain and selfish reasons. I don’t like that it rubs all the foundation off the tip of my nose, and it fogs up my glasses.”
Lujane, Arts and Engineering
“I have mixed feelings. On the one hand, it’s good to see people. But I’m adjusted to uni being online, and there are certain conveniences I don’t want to give up. I’m assuming Professors won’t be as lenient anymore. I guess I’m pro-vax, so not having a vaccine mandate is a bit concerning. But the Uni seems to be following the government guidelines, so it’s hard to say.”