Abiding by new provincial requirements, York announced on Wednesday, October 21 that masks will be required in all indoor spaces on campus regardless of social distancing practises. These spaces include administrative buildings and offices, classrooms, meeting rooms, and all common or shared areas in residence buildings.
Yanni Dagonas, deputy spokesperson for York explains that the health and safety of the York community is the university’s top priority.
“The wearing of masks/face coverings was required in all indoor common areas within campus buildings starting in early July when the City of Toronto first introduced its by-law. Since that time, masks/face coverings have remained mandatory in all buildings. On October 21, 2020, the policy was updated to mandate face coverings in all indoor public spaces regardless of current physical distancing guidelines.”
Wearing a mouth and nose covering indoors has been mandatory on York campuses since July 10; however, this originally applied to situations where social distancing could not be maintained.
With the new provincial regulations, in addition to the continuation of following proper health procedures and practising physical distancing, masks are to be worn at all times indoors . This new requirement comes as cases in the province and in York Region continue to rise.
“When I wear a mask or face covering, I am protecting you, and when you wear a mask of face covering, you are protecting me.”
“Wearing a mask or face covering is for everyone’s safety and wellbeing,” stated York President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda L. Lenton in the Community Update #16 regarding the new mask policy. “When I wear a mask or face covering, I am protecting you, and when you wear a mask of face covering, you are protecting me.”
The updated mask requirement, along with other COVID-19 health precautions has changed student life on campus rather drastically. Daryl Nauman, director of Residence Life at York, highlights how residences have adapted to the new way of interacting and communicating amid the current pandemic.
“Residence Life and Housing & Conference Services have been providing education to students about the measures in place in residence and their role in helping prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“Our student staff have embraced different platforms, such as Discord and Zoom,” Nauman continues, “and have been creative as we build community. Recently we hosted a residence-wide trivia night via Zoom with lots of engagement and great Halloween costumes too! For Red & White Day there was a video competition in place of our regular lobby decorating contest. We are offering limited outdoor activities too, such as campus walking tours or outdoor movies, where provincial/city health guidelines are followed including physical distancing, keeping the number of participants within the guidelines, and wearing face coverings.”
Zachary Loveridge, a third-year kinesiology student currently living in residence details what it is like living on campus with the new mask requirement in effect.
“I think it’s extremely important to abide by these restrictions — I think most of the campus has adapted well. Most people understand it’s a minor inconvenience for a long term benefit, so I haven’t seen or heard about many not accepting the mask policy.
“Campus life is different,” Loveridge continues. “It’s really quiet and not as busy, almost like a weekend day, or reading week, but all the time.”