Welcome back Gauchos!: unmasking GCC’s newest COVID-19 policy

GLENDALE, Ariz. – Glendale Community College welcomes its students back. But coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) brings new rules for students to follow, and potential consequences if they do not.

It has been almost a year and a half since COVID-19 began making its way through America, causing GCC, among many other schools to shut down. But GCC has opened its doors again for in-person classes, and here is what students may want to know.

According to the Student Safety Guidelines, inside of all indoor facilities, students are required to wear face coverings that cover their nose and mouth. Instead of six feet, three feet is the new social distancing requirement.

Students are not required to wear a mask outside, but the school encourages this. If a student or faculty member is alone in a classroom, they do not have to wear a mask unless another person walks into the room.

The campus is also taking new measures to better equip the students to follow guidelines, and promote a healthier environment.

“Our air filtration system is at a higher quality than what the standard is supposed to be,” said Dr. Teresa Leyba Ruiz, President of Glendale Community College. “Cycling our air through a high-quality filtration system is very important to start with. Every classroom and common space have either a blue box or a red box filled with cleaning supplies. So, if a student wants to wipe down their space before they sit, the supplies are there for them.”

There are consequences to not obeying the guidelines, however. In fact, refusing to wear a mask is a code of conduct violation.

According to guidance from the Office of the General Counsel, “Refusal to leave class after being told to leave by the faculty (due to refusal to wear the face covering) should be treated as are other classroom disruption cases, including calling Public Safety if necessary.”

Could some students view mask mandates as a specimen of segregation? Segregation based on refusal to wear a mask?

According to the Office of the Vice President of Academic Affairs, faculty will “Direct students needing accommodations to DRS (Disability Resources and Services), or religious accommodations to the Dean of Student Life. These students will also be directed to online/live online classes.”

If a student is neither religious nor disabled, they must wear a mask, or they also will be directed online.

President Leyba Ruiz offers reassurance on the COVID-19 policies.

“There are three things that are really important to me as your President. Consistency, policy, and safety. It’s important we be consistent with each other so we’re all getting the same answer and same response. Whatever the policy and the process say, is what we will do. And that keeps everybody safe. By being consistent and following policy we’re keeping individuals safe. The really great thing we can say about GCC is there has been zero transmission of spread on campus, and I think that’s really important to highlight,” said President Leyba Ruiz.

For more information on COVID-19 policies, email [email protected], or contact Maricopa County Colleges Risk Management at 480.731.8947.