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Mercer students hoping mask mandate stops spread of COVID-19 on campus

Masks are required for the spring semester. Last fall, the mandate required only unvaccinated people to wear a mask in indoor public spaces on campus.

MACON, Ga. — Mercer University's classes will remain in-person, but masks are required for the spring semester.

Last fall, the mandate required only unvaccinated people to wear a mask in indoor public spaces on campus.

Caylyn Kelly's in her first year here at Mercer.

"It shocked me at first because we had our floor meeting on Monday when we got back. It was crazy having to hear that we had to wear our masks everywhere from here on out," said Kelly.

She says last semester, masks were required only for unvaccinated individuals.

"I personally would forget to wear my mask everywhere. I got very comfortable on campus where I didn't wear my mask everywhere and I felt fine, so it was a lot more chill than it was this semester. Obviously, Omicron is here now, so we do have to be a bit more careful," said Kelly.

Now, students have to wear their masks in, "The bathrooms, in the hallways, even in the study rooms in the library -- it got pretty overwhelming," said Kelly.

However, masks are not required for people eating, drinking, exercising, or working or studying alone.

Lily Albrecht and Katleynn Dixon live on campus.

"It's hard to remember, like in the morning, you just get out of bed and then you're like, 'Oh, wait, I need to bring a mask with me,'" said Albrecht.

"Just now, I had to walk all the way back to my dorm room to get a mask because I forgot that it's here, especially when you're going to eat-- it slips your mind," said Dixon.

Looking forward, Kelly says, "My whole thing is I don't know how they are going to enforce it enough for everybody stick with it throughout the semester."

"I'm just hoping that with higher masking rates, maybe the positive cases will go down. Maybe next semester, we won't need them at all," said Albrecht.

In regards to vaccination, Mercer President William Underwood encourages students and staff to get vaccinated and boosted for COVID-19 to prevent severe illness. He says the vaccine boosters are offered on campus and at other locations.