Bethel makes face coverings optional in classrooms

Following lower COVID-19 cases on campus and in Ramsey County, Bethel students may now choose whether or not to wear a mask in classrooms.

By Sarah Bakeman | News Editor

Bethel students and faculty received an email from Director of COVID-19 Operations Kristi Moline today stating that masks will no longer be required in classrooms. This comes after a spike of cases during the interim semester, resulting in decreased cases both at Bethel and in Ramsey County. Updated CDC guidelines state that in low-risk areas, masks can be worn “based on personal preference” and “personal level of risk.” The CDC website deems Ramsey County a low-risk county. Moline attributed this, along with decreasing community case numbers, as the basis of the decision.

When students returned to in-person classes in fall 2020, masks were required in all academic buildings. In the spring semester of 2021, the policy was updated so that masks were only a requirement in the classroom. A year later, Moline’s email makes face coverings a personal choice on Bethel transportation and in classrooms. The only places masks will continue to be required are health services, the counseling center and specific labs and clinical courses.

This announcement comes only a day after Sodexo student employees received an email from Student Employment Supervisor David Walden, notifying workers that wearing masks during dining center shifts is now optional. Walden emphasized the element of choice.

“Employees may choose to continue to wear a mask based on their own judgment and risk level,” Walden wrote. “Please be respectful to anyone who chooses to continue wearing a mask.”

Moline emphasized a similar sentiment, urging students and faculty to wear a mask when asked by fellow community members. In addition to this, mask requirements will be enforced when students are at off-campus placements. If a member of the Bethel community tests positive for COVID-19, they are expected to follow isolation and quarantine precautions and wear a mask.

The policy update was ended with assurance that the COVID-19 team will continue to monitor case numbers and give guidance as necessary. 

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