Professors react to mask mandates


Ethan Schobernd, Campus Reporter

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect the citizens of Illinois, especially with the new Delta variant that has taken root across the United States.

Since cases are rising throughout Illinois, Gov. J.B. Pritzker made a statement on Aug. 26 announcing that all education and healthcare workers must be vaccinated or must be tested for COVID-19 on a weekly basis starting Sept. 5.

Professors had their own opinions to share about the statewide order.

Dr. Liza Meyers, assistant professor of music education, said, “I think it makes sense to keep everyone safe.”

As someone who teaches singing within the music department, Dr. Meyers said she wants to prevent the spread of the virus in her classes and to keep students and faculty safe, especially those who are immunocompromised.

“I still think that we just still need to continue to be cautious, because they say the Delta variant is more communicable,” Meyers said. “It’s easier for people to catch it. There are sometimes people who are vaccinated who can have like a breakthrough infection, although it doesn’t happen as often.”

Dr. Eric Bollinger, professor of biology, ornithology, and ecology, said he feels good about the vaccine mandate.

As a vaccinated individual, he believes all the students and faculty across campus should be vaccinated as well.

Another professor who is relieved about the vaccine mandate is Dr. Jeannie Ludlow, the Professor of English and Director of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.

“I think there’s a lot of controversy around the vaccination. I think most of the controversy is caused by misinformation,” Ludlow said. “And I think that even when it’s not caused by misinformation, it comes from a place of ‘each person for themselves.’” 

Dr. Ludlow said she wants everyone to take care of each other and just wants students to have the best experience they can have during the pandemic.

“If someone is against vaccines in general, or if they are against this one because they are being told to do it, then okay but stay home,” Ludlow said.

Dr. Jonelle DePetro, chair of the philosophy department, said she believes it is reasonable for Gov. Pritzker to order a vaccine mandate for educators.

“I realize that some people feel it is an infringement on their individual freedom, but I don’t believe we have unlimited freedom to put others at risk,” DePetro said. “No one is being forced to get the vaccine. It’s a choice.”

DePetro said she supports the vaccine and believes that getting vaccinated is just as much a responsible choice as receiving polio or measles vaccine.

“Evidence suggests unvaccinated people are more likely to get the virus and spread it,” DePetro said. “They are also more likely to suffer serious consequences of the virus.”

Multiple professors are in support of the new vaccine order and it is clear that many teachers are getting vaccinated. To reduce the number of COVID-19 cases, scientists say it is every individual’s responsibility to wear their masks and get vaccinated.

It is possible for the country to obtain herd immunity if a high enough percentage of Americans get vaccinated.