NECC Observer

The student news website of Northern Essex Community College, Haverhill and Lawrence, Mass.

Students react to NH’s mask mandate being lifted, NECC officials share school’s plans for fall

As of April 15, New Hampshire no longer mandates that residents wear masks in public places. While the state has lifted the mandate, NH Governor Chris Sununu said he still encourages people to wear a mask.

“A state mandate does not have to be in place for us to know that wearing face covering when we’re unable to maintain social distancing is just a good idea,” said Sununu. “It’s recommended by public health.” Sununu said this doesn’t stop towns, cities and businesses from requiring it on their own.

The Center for Disease Control recommends that people wear masks in public settings, at events and gatherings, and anywhere they will be around other people. Since November 2020, Massachusetts has made masks required in all public places; even where social distancing is possible.

After hearing about the NH mask mandate being lifted, some NECC students wanted to share their opinions.

“Obviously, it won’t be safe to stop wearing a mask next week,” said Zoey Lauria. Lauria is a New Hampshire resident that graduated with an Associate’s in Science Biology from NECC in December 2020. Now, she works in the STEM department while continuing her degree at UMass Lowell.

Lauria said she’s concerned about the message this sends to the population. “People who previously doubted masks will probably point to the lifting of the mandate as justification for not wearing them in public,” she said.

She said she worries it may give people a “bit of false hope” about the state of the pandemic, and that at this time, lifting the mandate is ”totally inappropriate.”

Yamina Valdez, a Mass. resident and Journalism and Communication major at NECC, said that she probably won’t wear a mask while shopping in NH. “If they don’t mandate it, I won’t wear one,” she said.

Valdez said that she wonders why so many people are getting sick and dying despite mask mandates being in place. “I feel that it’s not too soon (to lift the mandate),” she said. “People should have a choice.”

The CDC recommends wearing masks to prevent the spread of covid-19.

Zachary Cutter, a Mass. resident and Journalism/ Communications major was concise. About vaccines and mask wearing, he said, “look, just go ask your doctor at the end of the day.”

At NECC, masks will remain mandatory. “There’s no plan to get rid of the mask mandate at any time in the next year,” said Audrey Ellis, Director of Student Success Management.

Currently, it is not required for students to have to be vaccinated in order to attend in the fall.

“At this time, I am not anticipating a requirement for students to have been vaccinated to come to campus,” said Bill Heineman on March 29. Heineman is VP of Academic and Student Affairs. However, Heneman noted that “it’s not impossible” for the vaccine to be required at some point. He said he strongly encourages people to get the vaccine because it will “enhance the safety and health of everyone you come into contact with on campus.”

On April 20 the presidents of the state’s 15 community college, through the Massachusetts Association of Community Colleges, released a statement saying vaccines would not be mandatory at Massachusetts community colleges in the fall.

“…. the community colleges are not contemplating COVID-19 vaccine mandates at this time,” the statement said. “ It is essential that we meet the needs of all of our students, who are often from the communities hit hardest by this pandemic and facing disproportionate access to the COVID-19 vaccine. And now, it is more important than ever to prioritize equity, and creating additional barriers for our students would go against our critically important mission of open access for all. “