El Camino College’s COVID Task Force moves to keep indoor mask mandate

The El Camino College COVID Task Force motioned in a meeting not publicly advertised to keep indoor masking required with few exceptions on Friday, March 18.

In a break over the consistent adherence to guidance from Los Angeles County and the CDC, the El Camino College COVID Task Force decided to keep indoor masking requirements for students and faculty until the end of the semester.

One exception made was to become mask-optional inside the library. The case for this was presented by Dean of Library & Learning Resources, Crystle Martin, based on the library being a larger indoor space and concern over confronting students who were not wearing masks.

Indoor athletics spectator events have also received an exception to become mask-optional after a discussion point was brought up by Director of Athletics and Kinesiology, Jeffery Miera, that spectators are mostly spread out during events.

The COVID Task Force vote came a few days after concerns were raised at the Academic Senate meeting on March 15, that the Associated Students Organization (ASO) could not reach all students for their input. This led some senators, such as President of the El Camino College Federation of Teachers Kelsey Iino, to believe that the district would be sending out questionnaires to survey the student population.

Iino further explained that based on what she had heard, the district was going to send out surveys to the student population to gather their feelings over the requirement of wearing masks indoors, however, nothing was sent out.

“The students that I had spoken with said that they hadn’t gotten [a survey],” Iino said, “to my knowledge, no student has gotten it.”

A Union reporter reached out to ASO Trustee, Karina Ramirez, for comment on the student survey, but declined to provide a statement citing a “conflict of interest,” because she is on the COVID Task Force and a survey had been sent out over the ASO “Instagram and Discord” platforms.

During the meeting, COVID Task Force student representative and ASO Director of Human Resources Alberto Ramirez explained that ASO put together a survey on Tuesday, March 15, and sent it out to their Discord and Instagram platforms totaling around 2,300 followers together.

“We got 198 responses and asked two questions.” Ramirez said, “The first one was ‘are you taking in-person classes or using in-person services?’ 97.5% said yes and the other 2.5% said no, the second question was ‘do you want ECC to continue requiring the use of masks when indoors?’ 64.6% said yes and 35.4% said no.”

When asked for further comment on the process of surveying students, Ramirez did not respond to The Union.

Academic Senate President, Darcie McClelland surveyed both faculty and students. In her polling of 361 students, the results showed that 184 students preferred a change to the mask policy to become optional and 177 students preferred no change to the mandate.

A total of 559 students were polled regarding the preference of mask requirements out of just over 16,300 students enrolled in person, hybrid or online for the spring of 2022.

“I will say as the data was coming in, classes either tended to trend strongly towards keeping it or strongly away from keeping it,” McClelland said, “different areas were [distinct] so that was interesting to me.”

McClelland voiced her concern in the meeting regarding the use of potentially misleading survey questions explaining that these can manipulate the answers.

“I wish we found a more robust way to gather data because I think that this is really the type of decision that every student who’s taking classes on campus this semester should have the ability to weigh in on in some kind of official capacity,” McClelland said.


Editor’s Note: Fixed a grammatical error on March 21 at 8:44 a.m.