Wearing masks and getting vaccinated is required in an effort to protect ourselves and our Adelphi community. This mixed media artwork by Katie Farkas touches on how wearing masks affects personal identity, but is necessary to return to a version of normalcy this semester.
By Katie Farkas
Along with many other universities and colleges on Long Island and across the country, in July Adelphi made the decision to require all faculty, staff, and students to receive the Covid-19 vaccine prior to the start of the quickly approaching fall semester. Then in August, the mask requirement was added.
Regarding the vaccine mandate, Gene Palma, vice president of University Wellness at Adelphi, sent out an email to the community in July stating that “for the well-being of our community and to enable our return to a full academic experience this year, we are requiring all students to be fully vaccinated before returning to Adelphi for the start of our fall 2021 semester.”
“Our decision is based on the changing public health landscape and scientific evidence that supports the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines,” Palma said. Adelphi even launched an incentive program to “encourage a higher response to this important effort” for students who received and uploaded proof of their vaccination to Adelphi’s health portal.
The majority of students are responding well to the vaccine mandate that the university has put in place. Sentwali Bakari, vice president for Student Affairs said he wanted to thank students. “Our students have been terrific in helping to keep our campus safe, and I expect that that type of mindset and vigilance will continue. Our students have a lot of pride in keeping our campus safe.”
Charles Herman, a junior criminal justice major, said, “I feel safer if everyone got the vaccine, but as we saw recently with the Covid-19 outbreak in Cape Cod where 70 percent of people infected were vaccinated just shows Covid-19 is not over and we should all do our part to keep each other safe.”
Herman added that with the vaccine mandate Adelphi has put in place he “will be able to be more relaxed [this coming semester], but will still remain vigilant to help keep the community healthy.”
Sienna Apice, a sophomore art and design education major, also said she doesn’t mind requiring vaccinations for a school environment because vaccines for other serious diseases have been required on campus for years without major issues. But she had a concern about accessibility and protection for disabled students on-campus, adding it’s an important issue for the Adelphi community.
“I think the short notice timeframe was unfair for students,” she said. “I’m on immunosuppressant drugs and had to wait for my first dose of the vaccine, and it felt like the school was being harsh on me for listening to medical professionals instead of rushing for my shot. I think the mandate will be helpful for my fall semester. It allows disabled and ill students to feel safe on campus through herd immunity, as the vaccine is less effective for us so we’re still at risk. Being in a classroom environment is integral to my learning process and to the enjoyment I get from school, and I was worried that I’d have to continue to miss out on that opportunity while able-bodied students returned to campus full time. I appreciate Adelphi doing their best to navigate this situation with its vulnerable communities in mind.”
In an effort to help Adelphi students return to a full academic experience this fall, the university has also recently reinstated the requirement of face masks on campus at all times unless “outdoors when socially distanced, in your residence hall room, when actively eating or drinking, and for student-athletes, during training or competing, per NCAA policies which Adelphi follows” Palma states in a recent email sent out to the Adelphi community.
“As the public health situation evolves, we will amend our protocols as appropriate. Adelphi University continues to follow the advice of public health experts and all orders and requirements of New York state. Should transmission levels change in our region, we can update our mask policy again” continued Palma.
In addition, Bakari said it's important to maintain social distancing and abide by Covid guidelines so we can all stop the spread. “Our students have a lot of pride in keeping our campus safe,” he added.
Apice said, “Although this may not be the fall semester everyone was hoping for, I understand Adelphi is just doing its best to follow guidelines put in place by the state government. I’d rather be on campus with a mask than have to shut everything down again. At this point, anything’s preferable to a return to online learning.”
Herman said, “Given the surge in cases in the areas surrounding Adelphi as well as in this country, Adelphi was smart to reinstate the mask requirement. We are all tired of wearing masks. We like to see people’s faces. It is a form of communication. However, we have to do our part to continue protecting each other”
If students have any questions or concerns regarding these new mandates the university has set up a vaccine FAQ web page and the health services email, firstname.lastname@example.org.