Indoor mask mandate on campus

Madison College will require face coverings for all who enter a campus building

Medical+masks+will+be+available+at+Madison+College+building+entrances+for+those+who+need+them.

Andres Sanchez

Medical masks will be available at Madison College building entrances for those who need them.

Morgan Engels, News Editor

Students and faculty participating in classes or visiting campus at Madison College will be required to wear face masks, likely through the fall semester.   

 The decision came more than a week before the Dane County mask mandate. It followed a spring and summer that saw immense progress in the fight against COVID-19, which has largely been upended by the Delta Variant. 

“There was understandable disappointment when the mask mandate was announced, because of all the positive progress that has been made over the past year,” said Joshua Cotillier, Madison College’s Risk Manager. “However, the college’s commitment to its mission has not changed, we move forward to ensure our students are met where they are, and support their successes.”

 Over the Fourth of July weekend, the average
number of reported daily cases were less than a quarter of where they were at the same time last year. They were also at their lowest point since March of 2020, before we were capable of carrying out significant testing efforts. As of Aug. 24, the average number of daily reported cases is at its highest point since January, with over 150,000 new cases being reported on average. This is over three-and-a-half times as many as those being reported on average a year ago to the day. 

 The Madison College Cabinet met on Aug. 5. During this meeting it was decided to reinstate the campus mask mandate. Twelve days later Dane County announced its own mask mandate, which took effect on Aug. 19. That order is set to be in effect until Sept. 16. Both decisions followed a guidance issued by the Center for Disease Control that recommended fully vaccinated persons wear masks in indoor settings. 

 As with the previous mask mandate, cloth face coverings and surgical type masks are recommended. Meanwhile, bandanas and neck gators are not appropriate.       

  Currently, Madison College is in phase three of its four phased reopening plan. According to Cotillier, the mask mandate has not changed that. Phase three refers to a larger return of students and faculty returning to campus. Cotillier has also referred to this phase as meaning the campus is fully open. One difference students will notice when they arrive on campus is that there will be no more distancing requirements.  

   In being in phase three at the start of the Fall semester Madison College has achieved its previously reported goal. However, while hopes in the past were to be in phase four by Spring 2022, there is currently no expectation on when that may happen. Phase four is said to be whatever the new normal is.

 “The college’s approach to the pandemic is data driven and safety focused, this includes students, employees and the general public,” Cotillier said. “All decisions are based on CDC and Public Health guidelines or college mission objectives, this approach began in February 2020 and continues today.”

 Those who are unvaccinated are of greater concern than those who are vaccinated. According to the CDC some data suggests that the Delta Variant may cause more severe illness in unvaccinated persons than previous strains of the virus, and put them at greater risk of hospitalization.

 While breakthrough infections are considered to be rare, the data on exactly how common they are is lacking. It is known that symptomatic people who are fully vaccinated can transmit the virus to others. The CDC, however, is still assessing data on whether individuals who are asymptomatic and fully vaccinated can transmit the virus. It is believed however, that unvaccinated persons are of greater risk of transmitting the virus than fully vaccinated ones. 

 Unlike previous variants, the Delta variant produces the same high amount of virus in fully vaccinated persons as it does unvaccinated persons. However, studies have shown that the infection goes down faster in breakthrough cases than it does in unvaccinated individuals. This means that fully vaccinated individuals are likely infectious for a shorter amount of time than unvaccinated people.

 On Aug. 19 Madison College held vaccination clinics on the Goodman South Campus. Follow up appointments for the second dose are scheduled for Sept. 5-15. 

 For information on what to do if you test positive for COVID-19, you can visit the COVID-19 Positive Test Results page on the Madison College Website. You can also contact the COVID screener at 608-243-4880 or email [email protected]