Loomis goes mask-optional

Edward Park '23, News Editor

Following Connecticut state COVID-19 guidelines, Loomis adopted a mask-optional policy beginning spring semester. This policy effectively would mean that masks are no longer required in classrooms or other indoor settings on-campus.
The decision to implement the policy came after considering various factors with both physical and emotional health of the LC community in mind.
“The factors include the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the state of Connecticut,” COVID-19 coordinator Mary Liscinsky said. “The information they provided ranged from current best practices to the prevalence of the virus in and around our community.”
With the adjustment to the mask-optional policy, previous LC COVID-19 rules were changed accordingly.
“We have moved from general contact tracing to only quarantining very close contacts based on the recommendation at the end of December from the Connecticut Department of Public Health,” said Mrs. Liscinsky. “Their advice was that schools move away from general contact tracing and refocus their health efforts, given that the latest variant seems to spread more quickly.”
The implementation of the policy was met with considerable student approval.
“I’ve been waiting a long time to walk around campus maskless,” said Jim Le ’23. “Masks are greatly uncomfortable and stuffy and I’m glad the school made the switch.”
However, others were worried that the new policy would inevitably result in a fast spread of cases.
“The policy overlooks the fact that we are still living in a pandemic,” said Justin Wu ’22, “I am incredibly worried that a large number of students will contract COVID-19 and have to leave campus.”
However, precautionary steps were taken as the LC rolled out the mask-optional policy. Upon arrival to campus back from spring break, students were required to submit negative at-home antigen test results. In addition, students took a Mirimus PCR test after a week upon arrival to campus.
“We essentially put safeguards in place [before rolling out the new policy],” said Mrs. Liscinsky.
Until the campus-wide Mirimus results came back, students were required to wear masks. While the results came back with five community members testing positive, the school still rolled out the mask-optional policy immediately, asking those who tested positive to leave campus for quarantine and close contacts to continue masking and monitoring their conditions. However, the relaxed mask wearing requirements is subject to change according to federal and local mandates. The COVID-19 coordinators and decision makers at LC will wade through the information coming out from the CDC and local health officials to protect the health and safety of the LC community.
Moving forward, communication from students about their health conditions will also be key for preventing the spread of COVID-19 in the school community.
“I’m really grateful that community members who have had symptoms of COVID have taken the time to be tested,” said Mrs. Liscinsky. “Their diligence means that all of us are better protected. It says a lot about our community that people care enough about each other to take this important step.”