Lara Nicholson, LSU student media employee and Highland Coffees worker, wears a mask every 6-hour shift following the COVID-19 requirements.
“I think it was definitely an adjustment period at first,” said Nicholson. “I was working at the beginning of quarantine on March 23, so I’ve had a lot of time to get used to it.”
She believes that wearing a face covering is important, but it does have some inconveniences.
“I’m definitely a lot more comfortable with it, but there are still problems like fogging up, having to wash your mask a lot because it gets gross after wearing it for 6 hours straight,” said Nicholson.
Wearing a mask constantly may be the new normal for the LSU community as well.
LSU’s Phase 2 Return-to-Campus guidelines require employees to wear masks in areas where social distancing is impossible, and Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome issued a mandate requiring individuals to wear masks in businesses in East Baton Rouge Parish starting July 3.
Based on LSU President Thomas Galligan’s guidance, Rebecca Fontenot, Director of Wellness and Health Promotion at the Student Health Center, anticipates that face coverings will be required inside and outside of the classroom.
“Students should definitely be wearing them in all of the indoor places that they normally are like the Student Union, the Rec, classrooms where it’s especially hard to maintain physical distancing,” said Fontenot. “But outside, we would also recommend wearing them because, when you walk through campus during class-change time, going through Free Speech Plaza Alley, those are times that so many people you could come into contact with, and it’s just an extra layer of protection for everyone.
Fontenot said face coverings help prevent a person with or without symptoms from transferring the virus.
“When you combine that with everyday preventative actions and physical distancing, using a face covering helps protect others,” said Fontenot.
However, some fear that students may struggle with abiding by the requirements.
“You’re late to your class, you’re running in sweaty, breathing really heavy,” said Nicholson. “You’re not going to be wanting to wear a mask whenever that is happening, so I think there’s going to be some pushback.”
Fontenot believes that compliance may take time but, eventually, it will become a normal routine.
“I think there will be an adjustment period to wearing a face covering so frequently and for longer periods of time, but that’s sort of like any time you change a behavior, it takes time to get used to it,” said Fontenot.
As for preparing for the unusual semester, there are some ways to make the adjustment-period easier in the midst of a fresh school year.
“Right now, we want to urge everyone to try and obtain face coverings now since they could be difficult to find and may take some time to receive and get multiple since you want to have different ones to wear each day,” said Fontenot.
LSU tweeted Thursday that they are working on plans to distribute an “LSU-branded” face covering to all students.
As for Nicolson, she hopes that, like her coworkers, her classmates will comply with the requirements as well.
“A concern for me going into the school year is will people just be like, ‘whatever, I don’t care if I’m not in class, I’m not wearing a mask,’ because that’s when we are going to start seeing resurgence and see school have to shut down again,” said Nicholson.
LSU plans to begin the Phase 3 Return-to-Campus Plan when Governor John Bel Edwards decides to start Phase 3 of reopening Louisiana state-wide.