BYU Students Return With Mask Requirements On, Off Campus

Aug 31, 2020, 6:49 PM | Updated: Nov 29, 2022, 11:38 pm

PROVO, Utah — Students and faculty returned to class at Brigham Young University for the first time since March, with new mask requirements on- and off-campus under Provo’s new mask mandate.

“I’m still getting used to the masks,” said Hayden Borg, now in his second year at BYU. “But I don’t think it will inhibit the learning aspect.”

The BYU experience may not look or feel exactly how they left it in March, but for the first time since then, it’s more than an online portal. Masks are a requirement inside buildings and when distancing from others outside isn’t possible.

“It’s different to not hug each other and to sit farther apart on the bench,” said Kaija Willey, a junior studying global supply chain management. “It doesn’t take away from the fact that we can have a connection.”

“[Masks] help me feel comfortable I would say overall in the environment,” said Holly Harris, a junior studying sociology. “Because I don’t know who was in the classroom before me.”

Borg, Willey and Harris are among thousands who returned to in-person learning Monday with the new look. And with a citywide mask mandate now in place, they’ll be sporting that look off campus too.

Last week, the Provo City Council made it official, voting six to one to override the mayor’s veto and issue a mask mandate.

The ordinance requires face masks to be worn in public indoor areas and at large gatherings, and carries with it a $55 fine.

“I do think there’s some pushback in people feeling like maybe their rights or their liberties are at stake or being challenged,” Willey said. “I don’t really view it that way.”

“Obviously, everything’s a little bit different than before,” said Todd Hollingshead, a BYU spokesperson. “We really think it is a team effort between the university and our students and the community. We really hope everyone can kind of chip in, and if everyone does their own part, then that can help us be successful this semester.”

To ensure that success, BYU is also requiring students and faculty to screen themselves daily, even before they arrive on campus.

According to its website, “All students and employees are required to do a ‘Daily Checkup’ on the Healthy Together app. Professors and instructors are authorized to verify students have completed the daily checkup. Individual unit supervisors are authorized to verify employees have completed the daily checkup before starting work.”

“The college experience of being able to gather and learn is a really important experience for our students,” Hollingshead said. “We also know how important it is to stay safe, and we’re hoping everyone can do their part so we can continue to have an in-person semester.”

“I feel like most people are kind of just excited to get back to a routine, so they’ll do what they need to do in order to come back to class,” Borg said.

Students are coming back to a different kind of normal.

In addition to masks and keeping distance, many classes are being offering online, some in-person classes are being held in larger classrooms, and some classes will be a blend between online and in-person.

“Our attitude is what hinders us rather than the circumstances,” Willey said. “I hope we keep it open for as long as we can.”

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BYU Students Return With Mask Requirements On, Off Campus