Students start classes at University of Iowa, but some are concerned others may not take COVID-19 pandemic seriously

Published: Aug. 24, 2020 at 6:20 PM CDT
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IOWA CITY, Iowa (KCRG) - Classes resumed at the University of Iowa on Monday under very different circumstances than a typical fall semester.

Some students said they have mixed emotions in returning to campus, saying it is nice to see their friends after the summer break. But with concerns still swirling around the novel coronavirus pandemic, some say they are still worried about their classmates, specifically those that may not take the concerns around the pandemic seriously.

It was clear the first-day-of-school outfits included a new popular piece: face masks.

“I wish everybody would wear their masks, the process would go a lot faster, and less people would get sick and then we’d be able to continue as normal,” Destiny Slauson, a junior at the University of Iowa, said.

If you looked around campus Monday, there were plenty of people masking up, including fellow junior Beda Pick.

“I think mostly, the people that I’ve been around, even looking around campus right now, everyone’s following the mask mandate,” Pick said. “I think everyone’s keeping everyone in mind at this point.”

Even though it is mandatory in Iowa City and Johnson County, photos taken on Saturday night by The Gazette showed some students are not taking mask-wearing that seriously.

“On Snapchat every single night, it’s ridiculous honestly,” Slauson said. “It’s kind of embarrassing that they’re representing the University of Iowa and that nobody’s really doing anything about it.”

Leaving some students concerned and frustrated.

“I wish that everybody would just wear their masks, stay home if they can,” Slauson said. “If they know that they’re sick, obviously stay home. Take all the necessary precautions so we can get back to normal.”

And some students are now encouraging others to take safety seriously.

“Follow the mask mandate, do what we’re told, and kind of, just, we’re all in it together, so it’s all about sticking together and kind of getting through it,” Pick said.

The University of Iowa requires the school’s population to wear masks or shields in all university buildings, and out in public when they cannot socially distance.

Anne Bassett, a spokesperson for the University of Iowa, said: “The university’s primary goal is to have voluntary compliance with this effort on campus. However, failure to meet these requirements will be addressed through Human Resources and/or the Office of Student Accountability.”

Off-campus enforcement would ultimately fall to local law enforcement agencies. Sgt. Derek Frank with the Iowa City Police Department said it is a challenge protecting people from themselves.

“We will review all information and determine what is necessary, as far as education vs. enforcement,” Frank said. “We will also look for guidance from the County/City Attorney’s Offices, since they will ultimately be responsible for these charges if they are challenged in court.”

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