September 27, 2022

By Jillian Jones-Grant, Staff Writer | Additional Research By Emily Tenorio Molina, Randi Cross, and Leo Premnath-Ray

Reporters from The Citizen canvassed various areas of Laney College campus Wednesday Sept. 21, 2022, conducting interviews with current students on their opinions on the Peralta Community College District’s (PCCD) current mask mandate. 

PCCD’s current mask policy states that “individuals must at all times, while on PCCD controlled property, wear face masks that fully cover both mouths and noses in accordance with mandates by the State of California and/or Alameda County and the District’s COVID-19 Prevention Plan.”

While Alameda County and the State of California have chosen to loosen restrictions on their masking policies, PCCD decided to continue to hold its mask mandate in place on campuses.                   

Reesa Gonzalves, a current Laney student majoring in Nursing explained how she felt about the mandate. 

“I understand that we are wearing masks to protect each other, especially disabled students,” Gonzalves said, but added that “it’s also important to be able to see each other for social health. It’s not my favorite, but I do understand if the mask mandate is kept in place.”

Other students echoed Gonzalves’s remarks, including JC Jackson Jr., a business and finance major.

JC Jackson Jr. | Source: Randi Cross

“I’m perfectly fine with wearing a mask,” Jackson Jr. said, “and if my professors said that they would be more comfortable with me wearing one in class then I would respect that. But if the mandate were to be dropped I wouldn’t be mad at it. I’m pretty sure most people here are vaccinated now.”

David Hernandez, a Student Ambassador at Berkeley City College, doesn’t mind the required mask mandate on campus, although he pointed out some of the ways in which the masks can be inconvenient.

“It can get a bit annoying to always wear; mask when it’s too hot or you need to get a new one,” Hernandez explained. “I get why we have it [the mask mandate] – we have no windows in many of the BCC classrooms. We are one building, so not much ventilation.”

While many of the students that The Citizen interviewed acknowledged the pros and cons of both maintaining and loosening restrictions, others took a harder line.

Sipei Liu, a communications major, explained why she agreed with the mask mandate.

“I think masks are necessary in class because if we take off our masks indoors and start talking to everyone, we are at risk of infecting the whole class room.” Liu said.

Rachel Ferrarese, a sociology major, had a different view on the mandate.

Rachel Ferrarese | Source: Ken Lester

“It’s a personal feeling, it keeps the germs away and when I’m here at this school I don’t wear it because I feel they should be worn upon discretion” Ferrarese said.

Unlike the majority of the students that The Citizen interviewed, Chevonte Mitchell, majoring in biology, strongly disagreed with the current policy.

“I don’t get why the mandate isn’t being lifted because no one actually enforces it as much as it should be, I’m not for it at all but I follow along because it’s the rules” Mitchell said.

Earlier this year, The Citizen reached out to Mark Johnson, PCCD’s Executive Director for Marketing, Communications, and Public Relations, and asked if the district planned to change the mask policy in the wake of the changes in state and local guidance. 

In an email response to The Citizen’s inquiry, Johnson said that the district “currently requires the wearing of masks indoors on Peralta property, unless one is alone in a personal office space. I’m not aware of any imminent change in the policy.” Johnson said.

At the time, Johnson did not comment on whether or not the district was planning to release a statement to inform the Peralta community of any changes to the district’s current mask policy.