By Marie Salazar
Social Media Editor
Photo by Chris Swann
Gov. Greg Abbott announced his decision to open Texas 100% and to remove the statewide mask mandate starting March 10 despite the concerns from many. This decision has left Texas divided, and Tyler Junior College students to wonder what this meant for the campus.
After a few days of deliberation, TJC released an email to students that said, “TJC leadership provided full and careful consideration of the executive order and has determined the College will continue its current health and safety protocols as related to COVID-19. These include required face coverings, physical distancing, appropriate sanitizing and staying at home if not feeling well or if you have been exposed to COVID-19.”
According to the Clery Reports posted by TJC, from Jan. 5 to March 5, TJC has had a total of 41 confirmed COVID cases.
Students on campus have been vocal on their opinions regarding the mask mandate being lifted.
“I’m in a neutral position, but I feel it’s right for him to give the people a choice of whether they want to or not,” freshman Jatavian Kellum said. “Now, if some businesses don’t allow people in who don’t have a mask that will cause a problem of itself. I believe we as the people should have a choice.”
However, some students disagree with Abbott’s decision.
“I do not agree with Gov. Abbot’s lifting of the mask mandate. As of March 3, Texas is the 47th state in Vaccines. Everything is big in Texas, except vaccine doses being handed out. COVID is a real threat to us and we are not treating it like it is,” freshman Matthew Craig said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention COVID data tracker, as of March 17, Texas has administered 8,472,055 vaccine doses with almost 5.7 million vaccinated with at least one dose.
According to the New York Times, Texas holds a total of 2.7 million reported cases and 46,704 total deaths.
“We are in a pandemic and to lift the mandate is ridiculous due to 93% not being vaccinated,” Craig said. “Texas holds the third most deaths due to COVID-19 and lifting the mandate will only ensure that the numbers will rise. Masks help us protect ourselves from others to stop the number of cases. There is no need to pull the risk of raising the chances of getting this deadly virus.”
Craig said he planned to continue wearing a mask. “I 100% will wear a mask even if I am not required to. I am very thankful for many companies and TJC to take the stand to mandate masks while our representatives in Texas fail to see the importance.”
Others remain indifferent about the situation.
“I personally don’t care. The mask never stopped it, and people do what they want. I mean I’ve lost a close one due to COVID and he wore the mask the entire time. It’s all a matter of life or death and whose turn is it to die,” sophomore Aracely Castillo said.
The CDC states ,”Masks are a simple barrier to help prevent your respiratory droplets from reaching others. Studies show that masks reduce the spray of droplets when worn over the nose and mouth. COVID-19 spreads mainly from person to person through respiratory droplets. Respiratory droplets travel into the air when you cough, sneeze, talk, shout or sing. These droplets can then land in the mouths or noses of people who are near you or they may breathe these droplets in.”
Though Abbot removed the mask mandate, the decision to wear a mask is up to the residents. This leaves local businesses to decide if they plan to continue to enforce it or not, which many see as a possible issue for not only the workers but the managers.
One prime example of this is from an article written by The Washington Post that states, “Retail workers have been punched in the face, suffered broken limbs and, in the case of a security guard at a Family Dollar store in Michigan, killed while trying to enforce mask requirements.”
This has been an issue throughout the past couple of months. Which leads workers to fear the worst considering the mandate has been lifted.