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The end of an era? OSU students to potentially see a maskless fall semester

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Mask required photo

The current mask mandate in Stillwater is set to expire on May 25. Some OSU students think that it should be extended, while others say it is time to leave it behind.

Protest, extend, repeat. When it comes to the mask mandate, it’s time to break the cycle.

Mask mandates have been covering the smiles of Stillwater for over a year and many citizens, OSU students included, are ready to see them go.

The current Stillwater mask mandate is set to end on May 25, shortly after the end of the spring semester.

Stillwater Mayor Will Joyce is hopeful for a strong finish to beating COVID-19 in Stillwater and a gradual return to normalcy as the school year continues.

“If we stay where we are, my hope would be that we let it (the mask mandate) expire on the 25th of May,” Joyce said.

Vaccination numbers continue to increase by the day, and current hospitalization and ICU capacities reside at healthier levels than those recorded in past seasons of coronavirus outbreak that Stillwater has experienced.

“I think if the situation remains like it is right now in terms of cases and hospitalizations… I would not vote for extending it (the mask mandate),” Joyce said.

With Oklahoma officially settled into Phase 3 of the vaccine distribution plan, OSU students are eligible for vaccination, whether through the school or participating pharmacies. As students receive vaccinations and the idea of herd immunity is tossed around, many begin to wonder what next semester will look like.

For two semesters, the OSU community has endured social distancing and mandatory mask-wearing when inside campus buildings. For many students, this has had a major impact on their college experience.

Shaelyn Niblett, a senior in biology, feels that COVID-19 has made it difficult to fully experience college life, saying, “I feel like I’ve missed out on a lot of things because of it.”

The battle of mental on campus continues as students look forward to normal socialization and freedom from isolation. For sophomore and exercise science major, Maddie Gardner, it has been difficult to meet new people and build new friendships during the pandemic.

“It’s just really hard to get to know people in classes and different things like that with a mask on and being 6 feet apart, so hopefully –– I am very hopeful –– that we do not have to wear a mask in the fall,” Gardner said. “Hopefully it will be safe enough that we will be able to do that.”

Whether the City of Stillwater will extend the mandate or not is unknown, and OSU has yet to make any mention in regards to requiring masks on campus in the fall. However, It is known that the school currently plans to host in-person graduation for the spring 2021 semester and allow Boone Pickens Stadium to be used at full capacity in the fall.