Feb 8th, 2022, 03:35 PM

AUP Requires Students and Faculty to Wear Disposable Masks

By Molly Wilhelm
Photo credit: Unsplash/Jievani Weerasinghe
Concerns arise about financial and environmental impacts of new mask requirement.

AUP recently updated its COVID-19 masking policies on campus, which now require students, faculty, and staff to supply their own disposable surgical masks, according to AUP’s digital information hub.  

Caroline Zook, a visiting student from the University of South Carolina, expressed dissatisfaction with the university’s decision.  “It's frustrating,” Zook said. “Also, financially I do not have the money to keep buying boxes of disposable masks." 

Zook also conveyed her concerns about the environmental impact of the disposable mask requirement. “The masks are not only expensive, but we also have to throw them away,” she said. “It’s wasteful."

The university’s prohibition of cloth masks began just six days after AUP distributed a complimentary cloth mask, adorned with AUP’s logo, to all newly arriving students on the first day of orientation week for the Spring 2022 semester.  “If you’re going to give us a cloth mask that probably cost you five dollars to make, why don’t you just give us a box of the paper masks?” Zook said. 

Photo credit: Molly Wilhelm

Celeste Schenck, president of AUP, released a campus-wide e-mail announcement of the policy on Jan. 12. “Appropriate masks can be purchased from pharmacies across Paris or online,” Schenck wrote in the announcement. “There will be no exceptions to the masking rule,” she added.  Schenck’s e-mail explained that the policy was implemented to align with guidance from the French government.  "According to French government recommendations, disposable masks should be changed every four hours,” she wrote. 

For many of the students and faculty at AUP, this means supplying more than one disposable mask per day on campus. Anne-Laure Jardry, health plan coordinator within the health services office at AUP, indicated overall support for the university’s decision while also acknowledging potential downsides.  “The new regulation regarding masks makes sense because we know now that the cloth masks are not as safe," Jardry said.

Jardry shared her understanding of the university's current protocols."We have to supply our own masks," Jardry said. "We can ask someone at the reception desk if we forget some but it's just for an emergency purpose. We can't ask for a supply for one semester, it's impossible," she added. "I should've kept count of how much it costed me for two years, I have no clue." 

Photo credit: Unsplash/Cate Bligh

Jardry also shared similar concerns with Zook about the environmental costs of disposable mask usage."With all the efforts we make to recycle and everything, that mask issue now it's terrible," Jardry said. "I don't know how many times I come across a mask on the floor or the street and it's a pity." 

Marc Montheard, vice president for student services and security, also commented on AUP's current coronavirus policies."The whole community is considered to be of the same rights, the same privileges, and same responsibility," said Montheard.