ECC’s staff is excited about the mask mandate removal

Joey LeMaster, Reporter

Dr. Kellen Bolt teaches his class with a mask on. (Lina Fasihi)

For the first time since the pandemic, Elgin Community College is officially mask-free. Although masks are still encouraged by ECC, they aren’t required. The ECC staff have been waiting to hear this announcement since the beginning of the pandemic.

“It’s good to know that we’re finally at a place where we can have some flexibility with masks,” Lori Clark, a professor of English, said.

It’s good that the college is still encouraging people to wear them for those of us who are still a little bit hesitant or those of us who are immunocompromised. I think it’s good progress that we’re making after a very long time of needing to wear masks because of covid.”

ECC’s process of removing the mask mandate has gotten the support of the staff. They were happy with ECC’s decision to wait until the correct time. Despite the support, the majority of staff members found it confusing that they removed the mandate in February, just to implement it again two days later.

“I think it was handled well,” Sarah Baker, a professor of English, said. “I do think getting a couple of different messages in the same week was confusing. In class, I had a couple of students who were confused and so we walked through it together. But I think the timing was good and I think it made sense. I think it was good to be in line with what the public schools in the area were doing.”

Despite the removal of masks, the staff feels no changes to how their classes are taught. 

It’s not really impacting my teaching,” Clark said. “I almost always wear a mask. If I’m at the front of the room and my students are in the seats I’ll sometimes take it off because I get incredibly hot when I wear it. When I’m near a student I always put it back on just for their safety and my own.”

Their teaching may be the same, but their excitement for school has skyrocketed. Being away for a while and now coming back has created a buzz of excitement that ECC hasn’t seen in a long time.

“The one thing that makes the most excited to be back in person is the response of students,” Kellen Bolt, assistant professor, said. “I think a lot of the students who are back in person are excited to be back in person. A lot of people don’t get excited about school, especially English 101 and 102, not the most exciting classes and I know that. But they’re excited to be back and that excitement is the thing I’m most excited about. Is just seeing that happiness of being here.”