AFT 1493 Faculty Survey on District Mask Requirement
Survey finds 50% of faculty comfortable with continuing mask requirement, 50% comfortable with ending it
Although masking requirements put in place by the California Department of Public Health and Cal/OSHA have changed, SMCCCD currently continues to require all individuals on campuses to wear masks indoors. If this requirement were rescinded, however, the new CDPH and Cal/OSHA guidance would allow both employees and students, regardless of vaccination status, to go unmasked in campus buildings.
To understand faculty perspectives on potential changes to masking policies, especially as we look at the possibility of negotiating with the District over masking requirements, AFT 1493 asked district faculty to take a 2-question online survey during the first week of March. 466 faculty (a little more than half of all district faculty) responded to the survey.
Should the district continue to require masks or not?
The first question asked faculty members: “Which of the following masking policies would you feel comfortable with?” Three answer choices were provided and respondents could select more than one choice. A total of about 50% of faculty said they were comfortable with a policy that required masking for all for the remainder of the Spring 2022 semester. 50% also said they were comfortable with a policy that allowed everyone to choose whether to wear a mask. Around 15% of respondents would be OK with a policy that would only require unvaccinated people to wear masks on campus for the rest of the semester. Below are more details:
- I am comfortable with an SMCCCD policy that requires employees, students, and visitors to wear masks for the remainder of the Spring 2022 semester, regardless of their vaccination status. 230 (49.68%)
- I am comfortable with an SMCCCD policy that requires unvaccinated employees, students, and visitors to wear masks for the remainder of the Spring 2022 semester but allows vaccinated employees, students, and visitors not to wear masks if they choose. 68 (14.69%)
- I am comfortable with a policy that allows all employees, students, and visitors, regardless of vaccination status, not to wear masks if they choose. 234 (50.54%)
Percentages total more than 100% because faculty could choose more than one option. 32 faculty said they would be comfortable with either a policy that required everyone to wear masks or a policy that did not require anyone to wear them (meaning that in either case there would be no restrictions specific to vaccination status). 19 faculty said they would be comfortable with a policy that required everyone to wear masks or one that required only unvaccinated people to wear them. 8 faculty said they would be comfortable with a policy that required only unvaccinated people to wear masks or did not require anyone to wear them. 5 faculty said they were comfortable with any of the three options, while 3 faculty did not check any option.
174 faculty said they were only comfortable with a policy that requires everyone to wear a mask. 189 faculty said they were only comfortable with a policy that allows everyone to choose not to wear a mask. 36 faculty said they were only comfortable with a policy that requires unvaccinated people to wear a mask while allowing vaccinated people to choose whether to wear a mask.
If the district dropped mask requirements, how many faculty would require an accommodation?
The second question asked faculty respondents: “If the District dropped some mask requirements, would you require an accommodation based on your health conditions? Possible accommodations include continuing the mask requirement in your office or classroom, or a remote work arrangement.” Two answer choices were provided and respondents could select either, both or none. Below are the answer choices and the numbers of respondents who selected each:
- I would require an accommodation if the District dropped the mask requirement for unvaccinated employees and students. 78 (16.74%)
- I would require an accommodation if the District dropped the mask requirement for vaccinated employees and students. 45 (9.66%)
AFT will continue to advocate for robust and diverse Covid safety measures and for the continued availability of N95 and KN-95 masks furnished by the District for employees and students.
A sampling of the 127 individual comments from faculty respondents:
I think a slow but steady removal of mask-wearing is appropriate in the classroom and indoor setting, assuming Covid does not get worse during the year. During these unstable times, we can provide consistent and clear messaging to employees and students that masks will continue to be required through the spring semester. The smaller in-person summer session would be an ideal time to “test” an optional mask policy for the campus.
Let’s follow the CDC guidelines here. We have to trust scientists to do their job.
Although I am excited to say good-bye to the mask, I think some of my students would feel very uneasy about being in a relatively crowded space with unmasked people. This is not what they initially signed up for, and I can anticipate that a few of them would consider dropping the classes.
People who need extra safety or protection can teach from home, work from home, or wear as many masks as they want. They do not have the right to force the rest of the world to wear masks…There is absolutely no science backing the decision to mandate mask wearing at this point. Covid is an endemic condition now.
While dropping the mask mandate does not mean I am personally affected due to my health conditions, it may affect my immunocompromised loved ones who I would have to restrict contact with. Also, if we continued the mask mandate, which I am in favor of, better signage would be needed – as students are already not wearing masks inside buildings. I do not want to have to police students walking down the hallways to wear their masks.
I think it’s time for the district to drop all mandates for masks and vaccines. I am ashamed to work for an institution that actively and systemically discriminates against entire groups of people, disproportionately people of color. SMCCD should be open to ALL.
Many employees returned to campus and signed contracts with the understanding that masking would be required. For the district to change their policy mid semester would be unfair to employees who agreed to an assignment trusting that all would be masked indoors.
Masks reduce the flow of oxygen to the brain. That is an undisputed fact. [Ed. note: See this fact check that disputes this claim.] This harms the wearer and reduces one’s capacity for cognition. Masks create significant negative psychological harm, as it socially alienates both the wearer and the observer. Masks create an internal environment in the nose, throat and lungs that encourages the proliferation of harmful bacteria.
It still feels too early to tell if unmasking indoors is a good idea. I have had quite a few students miss class recently because of contracting or being exposed to COVID-19. By April(after Spring break), things might look better.
I am very concerned for the possibility of masking no longer being required. It puts to many people at risk of illness and missing work. I think masks should stay for the remainder of the semester.
I am so done with the masking business! Please, please, please let me free my face. I have a fairly large nose and I am tired of having it smashed all day, every day.