Students return from Spring Break maskless and feeling recharged


Photo by Michaela Nees

Micah Ellyson, freshman nursing major, and Anna Kegeris, freshman exercise science major, meet with Campus Outreach staff member America Sons (middle) in the Jazz Lounge.

Sydney Lawson, Lifestyle Editor

It’s sixty degrees and the sun is shining down on the university. Students fill campus Monday after returning from Spring Break. The maskless masses smile as they walk into class for the first time since the pandemic without a mask gracing their faces. 

“Look at all of your faces!” My instructor exclaims as she charges into the classroom with a big smile. 

The indoor mask mandate policy was dropped March 7, the first day of Spring Break, by President Ronald Rochon. Monday was the first day students were not required to wear a mask to class since August 2021. 

While some students on campus are still wearing masks, a majority are not. 

“Honestly, I’ve been waiting for the mask mandate to be gone since 2019. It’s definitely been different, just seeing everyone’s complete face,” said Beth Jewell, junior elementary education major. “The professors! You’re like ‘oh my goodness, that’s what they look like?’” 

Tanisha Davis, a senior early childhood education major, said not wearing a mask has given her confidence. 

“It’s pretty exciting. If there’s a big group, I’ll still put a mask on, but most of the time it feels really nice,” Davis said. “I actually took a picture of myself yesterday because I felt great!”

Maskless students gather around at the USI History Society book sale in the Breezeway. (Photo by Michaela Nees)

In Rochon’s statement regarding the removal of the mask mandate, he said the change isn’t necessarily permanent.

“It has been a long two years with COVID-19 and none of us know if another variant is around the corner,” Rochon said. “Therefore, if needed, this face covering policy is subject to change.”

Students did not receive a Spring Break in the spring semester of 2021. Nancy Langley, senior Rice Library assistant, said this took a significant toll on student’s mental health. 

“Without spring break, students were exhausted. They were sluggish. They didn’t care. Grades were lower. We can’t go without it again,” Langley said. “Student’s mental health is first.” 

Langley said because students were not able to travel home during Spring Break in 2021, students were not able to get appropriate spring clothing. 

Students have also expressed their appreciation for a Spring Break in 2022. 

Jewell said, “I think it got rid of at least a little burnout. Just going for sixteen weeks straight is extremely hard.”

“I really enjoyed it,” Davis said. “It gave me a chance to decompress and spend time with family, and just take a break from a crazy semester.”