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From Masks to Monkeypox, An Overview of Current Health Guidelines at Loyola

Zack Miller | The PhoenixFinally back, students are able to enjoy a mask free and Monkeypox free campus with cases on the decline.

With everyone back on campus, students are experiencing the first week of classes with limited mask requirements and a potential new COVID-19 booster requirement on their way. 

Along with the decline in COVID-19 cases, there has also been a decrease in Monkeypox cases in Illinois. During the week of Sept. 4, there were 47 confirmed Monkeypox cases as reported by the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH), lower than the city’s peak of 142 cases during the week of Aug. 23. The university has continued to include Monkeypox in their weekly Health, Safety, and Well-Being updates, reminding students of potential symptoms and the protocol if they believe they have been infected.

Loyola students are only required to wear masks in university health care settings, university health guidelines specify. The university also allowed individual professors to set their own mask policies, meaning some students are still required to wear masks in class if their professor requires it.

First-year Luke Healy expressed his frustration with requiring masks when many students didn’t know beforehand to bring masks with them. Healy also believes professors should be providing masks for their students if they are required for the class.

Sarah Maxey, a political science assistant professor, said she requires masks to preserve the safety of herself and her students. She also expressed gratitude for the university for allowing the decision to be up to the professors. 

“I appreciate that they have given professors room to require them and I feel that it is a good idea,” Maxey said. 

Around 73.8% of the Illinois population is fully vaccinated, Chicago lags slightly behind with 69.27% of the city’s population being fully vaccinated, rising 1.77% over the summer, according to Illinois Department of Public Health (IPDH).

The Center of Disease Control (CDC) approved a second booster shot on Sept. 1, which specifically targets recipients from the BA.1 and BA.2 Omicron Subvariants of the virus. Loyola hasn’t announced if they will require students to receive the new vaccines. Loyola previously required all students to receive past boosters, as The Phoenix reported.

Emily Ramstetter, a Loyola spokesperson, said in an email to The Phoenix the university currently strongly encourages students to stay up to date with all their vaccines. However, they might review their current requirements to include the new booster. 

“We will continue to study and review our COVID-19 vaccination and booster requirements and carefully consider the updated guidance from public health authorities,” Ramstetter said. 

Ramstetter said there will be limited access for the new booster in the Wellness Center at an unspecified time in the future. The Wellness Center is also thinking of including the new booster at this year’s Wellness Fair on Oct. 6 from 1-4:30 p.m. in the Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt, BVM Multi-Purpose Room in Damen Student Center. 

“In the future, we will also consider vaccine clinics as we do for the annual Influenza vaccine at the Loyola Wellness Fair,” Ramstetter said. “Students can walk in, but must sign in with the LUCommunity event pass. Influenza shots are first come, first serve.”

English major John Theoharis expressed his acceptance of the current COVID-19 guidelines and possible future requirements of the new booster. 

“I’m comfortable with it given the decline in COVID cases,” Theoharis said. “If a new booster requirement is consistent with their policies then I think it could be acceptable.” 

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