GV rec center expects spike in attendance with removal of mask mandate


GVL / Rachel Slomba

Elizabeth Schanz, Staff Writer

With COVID-19 restrictions easing across the nation, many institutions, including Grand Valley State University, are making changes to their policies. 

Prior to spring break, the GVSU Virus Action Team (VAT) announced through email that the university was now at a COVID-19 alert level one, resulting in a revised mask policy. 

This change in alert level allows individuals to go without masks in some parts of campus, one of these locations being the GVSU recreation and wellness center (rec center), both at individual workout stations and in group workout classes. 

Before the removal of the mask mandate at the rec center many students and staff noticed that attendees often didn’t properly follow the mask mandate. 

GVSU sophomore Kylie McCaskill, a student employee in the rec-well division said she thinks this change may draw in students who had previously been deterred by the rule and the enforcement of it. 

“There’s definitely going to be more people coming,” McCaskill said. “More people were going to outside gyms than before (the mask mandate was implemented).”

After two years of living with the pandemic and wearing their masks, many students said they’re feeling hopeful due to the recent changes to the COVID-19 policies. 

Sophomore Melisa Deneweth said she has yet to attend campus buildings without masks and appreciates the option to not wear a mask in the rec center. 

“Personally (the new policy) would make me want to go (to the rec center) because not having to wear a mask while working out is way better and a lot of us haven’t had that in two years now,” Deneweth said. 

While some individuals may be uncomfortable without a mandate in certain locations, others are excited for the possibility of the complete removal of the policy. 

“I think it means the university is taking a step in the right direction,” Deneweth said. “Hopefully everyone continues to stay safe and keeps going in the right direction and maybe one day not require them anywhere.” 

However, the COVID-19 alert levels are subject to change in response to case numbers. 

The complete removal of the policy would occur at an alert level zero. 

This makes some students uncertain about how permanent the new changes will remain in place.

“I feel like it can go two ways,” McCaskill said. “Either they’re going to make us go back to wearing masks everywhere or they’ll slowly remove the mandate for masks in classrooms as well.”

As case levels remain low on the GVSU campus, what the future might look like in regards to COVID-19 continues to develop. 

“I would really love to not wear a mask, but I’ll do it if I have to,” McCaskill said.