From Where We Are

USC community navigates first day without mask mandate

Students and faculty share concerns about the policy change and how they will approach going maskless indoors.

Two students sit at a table doing work — one is wearing a mask, while the other is not.

As COVID positivity rates decrease in L.A. County, USC has lifted its indoor mask mandate. Today marks the first day that everyone can go without masks since the return to in-person classes in Fall 2021. Vani Sanganeria has the story.

For the first time in nearly two years, students are able to walk into indoor spaces without a mask.

Still, some professors are encouraging their students to continue wearing masks in person.

USC physics and astronomy professor Dr. Vahe Peroomian sent an email reminding students to be conscious of their classmates.

I’m the least worried. I’m more worried about my students that might be immunocompromised sitting in that environment. We’ve been clearly told that we cannot mandate mask-wearing, but I’m at least going to lead by example and try to see how that works out.

Some students share this sentiment and will continue to wear masks despite the lifted mandate. Aidan Scanlan is a freshman studying neuroscience.

A lot of my classes are in fairly enclosed spaces and you end up sitting within one seat of someone. Like, we don’t have enough seats in the class where everyone can sit apart. And you know, I’m fully vaccinated and everything, but I feel like it makes sense to defend yourself against that, especially given when you’re in close proximity with someone in an enclosed space.

Another freshman, communications major Tatum Clem says she will continue to wear a mask for a different reason.

I probably will during some classes, just because I like to be a little bit more cautious, but also because, sometimes I feel like I’m not looking great, like it just kind of comes in handy because only people can see my eyes.

But many students feel they are safe on campus without wearing a mask. Senior and narrative studies major Eli Gruen says he’ll make his decision based on the classroom situation.

For my own personal, like, needs and whatever, I feel safe not wearing a mask. But if there’s something like I’m going to read the climate of the room and if there are some people who are wearing masks, maybe that means they may be immunocompromised. I’m OK not wearing masks, but I also care about other people’s needs.

As Spring Break arrives, the coming weeks will tell whether or not the decision to remove the mask mandate was too early, or right on time. For Annenberg Media, I’m Vani Sanganeria.