BURLINGTON, Vt. – If you’ve gotten used to walking around without a mask handy, it may be time to get back in the habit.
Both the city of Burlington and and the University of Vermont announced last week they are revisiting the requirement.
UVM, which is requiring faculty, staff and students to be vaccinated before returning to school later this month, said will ask everyone to wear a mask indoors on its campus. In Burlington indoor masks are recommended in public spaces.
Some UVM students took the announcement in stride, and said they were grateful that the ongoing threat of COVID-19 is still being taken seriously.
“I felt kind of relieved to know we’re not completely forgetting about the pandemic, we’re still remembering that there’s safety concerns going around,” said Seraphina Fecher, who will be a junior this fall semester.
Graceia Pacheco, also a junior, said “the pandemic isn’t over just because we’re in a state with a high vaccination rate. Places where other students come from are probably not as safe as we are.”
“If that’s the most we’re going to have to do, I’m totally okay with that, and I think we’re all used to wearing masks at this point as long as there’s no restrictions in place,” Pacheco said.
Others said they had hoped the restrictions and mandates were behind them by now.
“It’s a little bit frustrating I think, because we had two months where there were very few restrictions in Burlington and things felt like they were turning around,” said Maddie Cross, a recent UVM grad. “But, it’s the smart thing to do if you have kids coming in from all over the country.”
According to the university, over 90 percent of new and returning students are vaccinated, and that rate is continuing to rise ahead of students’ return to campus. Others said that strong turnout, combined with the school’s vaccine mandate, will be a big help in avoiding further measures as the year goes on.
“We’re kind of leading the charge, and I’m proud to go to school here,” said Elle Zymba, a UVM student. “I think we’re doing all the right things.”
Meanwhile, the City of Burlington’s recommendation for indoor masking was met with similar support. As of Friday, Chittenden County had reached the CDC’s threshold for high transmission as the state as a whole reported 88 new cases.
“I’m really worried about the Delta variant,” said Bernie Carver. “We have to go with the science, I think. I was hoping we could get back to normal, but it doesn’t look like the virus is done with us yet.”