HACKETTSTOWN, NJ (Warren County) – Student researchers from Centenary University are participating in a nationwide study recently launched by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to gauge facial mask compliance on college campuses across the country. Called MASCUP!, the eight-week study will provide critical data to inform future CDC guidance to fight the spread of COVID-19.
Twelve Centenary students are serving as anonymous observers on the University’s Hackettstown campus to collect mask usage data, which will be reported to the CDC once a week. The students are tracking the proportion of students who are wearing masks, the proportion who are wearing masks properly, and the different types of masks worn.
Centenary is one of six sites in New Jersey—and approximately 50 campuses across the country—selected by the CDC to submit data for the study, according to Centenary Head Women’s Basketball Coach Rose Haller, who is coordinating the University’s participation with Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students Kerry Mullins. A cross-section of students has volunteered, from freshmen to graduate students representing many academic programs at Centenary.
Haller noted that the CDC study exemplifies Centenary’s commitment to providing experiential learning. “This is a great opportunity for Centenary students to build their resumes working with a national organization on a national study in partnership with other students, some from very large research universities,” Haller explained. “It’s the backbone of who we are educationally, providing hands-on learning and professional experiences throughout the college career.”
The study provides an important way for students to make an impact on a national issue that has re-shaped the nation and the world, Mullins added: “The information that the CDC derives from this study will help protect against the further spread of COVID-19 and universities from having to make tough decisions about closure. So, it really is very much about helping their peers, at Centenary and across the country, to stay safe and keep universities open for in-person learning.”
Mullins said that, for the most part, Centenary students have been compliant when it comes to mask usage. Last semester, the University completed the fall semester offering in-person instruction, as planned, with no pandemic-related interruptions. Campus density was reduced through a new program called Centenary Choice, permitting students to choose to attend classes in person, online, or in a HyFlex format combining the two.
For the spring 2021 semester, Centenary strengthened its on-campus mask mandate to require face coverings for anyone on campus, including those in buildings, outside, and inside residence halls. “We were successful having our fall semester in person, without any cancellations, and that’s because our students have been compliant, for the most part,” Mullins said. “By taking part in the CDC study, Centenary students are helping the greater good while influencing our decision-making here on campus. Above all, they are helping to get our country through this pandemic.”