Who’s Wearing A Mask Correctly At FIU?

Empty MMC campus amidst pandemic/ photo by Danny Tarrau

Written by: Angela Rivas 

Graphics by: Elise Gregg and Angela Rivas. 

Reported by: Kimberly Aldunate, Jordan Coll,  Diego Diaz, Jesse Fraga, Richard Gibson, Sophia Medina, Rebeca Ortiz, Valentina Palm, Emiliana Fawley-Puello, Danny Tarrau, Ethan Toth, Thaniuska Vivas and Maya Washburn. 

The rush of faculty heading to Cafe Bustelo for a mid-day colada, students walking back to their cars after a long day of classes, or tour groups teaching the “FIU Fight Song” to future panthers has become a distant reality. 

First year students now learn the chant through Zoom, the walk back to the car is now a walk to the living room, and the campus is now silent. 

Last year, the university transitioned to remote learning on March 12 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. FIU closed both campuses for six months and campus life hasn’t been the same since. 

Now, university administration is making efforts to repopulate with guidelines in place to limit the spread of the virus.  FIU implemented a mask requirement for all who step foot on campus since the start of the pandemic. 

But, are those who visit campus complying with the mask regulations? 

PantherNOW sent 14 staff writers to survey how many people are following FIU’s mask regulations at both the Modesto Maidique and Biscayne Bay Campus. Staff headed to their designated location the week of March 17 and stayed for one hour in the morning and evening. Staff members did not speak to anyone observed in the study, which included those on campus sitting, walking, standing. 

Locations surveyed included: Graham Center, Green Library, MANGO, PG-5, MMC housing, Bayview Dorms, Wolfe Center, Glenn Hubert Library, Roary’s Bay Cafe and Academic II building.

According to FIU’s Panthers Protecting Panther’s initiative, a face covering must be worn at all times when visiting campus. The mask must be within the guidelines: covers the mouth and nose, has layers to keep respiratory droplets in, and a nose wire. 

However, the masks FIU offers around campus don’t have a nose wire. 

Face coverings help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus, transmitted person to person through respiratory droplets, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

With the CDC mask guidelines in place and FIU’s rules for mask wearing on campus, PantherNOW staff found almost 80 percent of the 1,438 people observed wore their mask correctly on campus while 14 percent wore one incorrectly. Still, 8 percent of people wore no mask at all. 

The results are divided into three categories: correctly wearing their mask over their mouth and nose, wearing a mask incorrectly, or not wearing a mask at all.

From March 17 to March 21, PantherNOW staff surveyed 1,438 people on MMC and BBC. The barren campuses reflect the small number of students spotted as opposed to pre-pandemic times when they boasted with student life. / graphics by Elise Gregg and Angela Rivas

Modesto Maidique Campus | Graham Center

Tables are barren as students no longer sit with friends to enjoy lunch / photo by Jordan Coll 

Graham Center, the heartbeat of the MMC, is home to restaurants, stores, and crowds of students heading to class. Music playing from club tables in the GC pit and the smell of cortaditos from Cafe Bustelo lingered through the hallways. 

Now, the smell of coffee is gone as the cafe remains closed and social distancing is required to limit crowds. The once “life of the campus” building is quiet and bare. 

Few people found on campus as the coronavirus keeps everyone at home / video by Jordan Coll 

Our results showed almost 90 percent of the 408 people counted in GC wore their masks correctly. Only 43 wore it incorrectly or didn’t have one. 

PantherNOW staff  observed GC on March 17 from 6pm -7pm , March 18 from 10am -11am, and March 19 from 6pm-7pm and counted a total number of 408 people. 365 wore their mask correctly, 35 wore it incorrectly, and 8 didn’t wear a mask. Few people found on campus as the coronavirus keeps everyone at home / graphics by Elise Gregg and Angela Rivas 
In the Graham Center 89 percent of the people counted wore their mask correctly, 9 percent wore it incorrectly, and 2 percent didn’t wear a mask. / graphics by Elise Gregg and Angela Rivas

Steven and Dorothea Green Library 

The Starbucks line stays empty as students take their mid-day coffee at home / photo by Jordan Coll

Sunset palm tree views, the smell of Starbucks, and the rush to get the last table to study was the reality of the Green Library before the pandemic. Students cramming for finals, mapping out group projects on white boards, and meeting up with friends at the infamous library booths filled the building. 

The once desired booths, now stand desolate as panthers study at home and use online means to meet with friends. PantherNOW staff sitting in the Green Library observed the emptiness of the tables once filled with life

Entrance to Green Library shows few people as students stay home to study for finals / video by Jordan Coll 

Of the 272 people surveyed, almost 80 percent wore their mask correctly but the remaining 20 percent had their mask hanging from their ear or underneath their nose, or didn’t wear one. 

PantherNOW staff observed GL on March 18 from 6pm -7pm and March 19 from 10am – 11am and counted a total number of 272 people. 216 wore their mask correctly, 36 wore it incorrectly, and 20 didn’t wear a mask. “It took a pandemic to bring some quiet to the second floor of the Green Library” / graphics by Elise Gregg and Angela Rivas 
In the Green Library 79 percent wore their mask correctly, 13 percent wore  it incorrectly, and 7 percent didn’t wear a mask. / graphics by Elise Gregg and Angela Rivas 

MMC Dorms


MMC dorms remain empty as students stay home during quarantine/ photo by Richard Gibson

Crowds admiring the views overlooking the FIU stadium, friends lounging by the pool, and  groups filling the study rooms was an everyday occurance for those living on-campus. 

But, the COVID-19 pandemic shifted the lives of many students who called campus housing home, as they found themselves leaving their dorms for their hometown. 

A year after the start of the global pandemic, over 700 students returned to campus this spring semester. With regulations in place such as mask wearing and  social distancing.

The crowds of students lounging by the pool are no more as they must keep 6 feet apart, and sports events such as football and basketball games, are being held at limited capacity and go unattended. 

Out of the 275 people counted near the MMC dorming squad, almost 70 percent wore it correctly. 

Despite having rules in place, 84 people wore their mask incorrectly or had no mask at all.

MMC housing was observed on March 17 from 6pm -7pm, March 18 from 9am-10am and 6pm-7pm, March 19 from 9am – 10am and 6pm-7pm, and March 21 from 6pm-7pm. We counted a total number of 275 people. 191 wore their mask correctly, 49 wore it incorrectly, and 35 didn’t wear a mask. The student housing lifestyle of those who dorm on campus shifted as many fled to quarantine at home.  / graphics by Elise Gregg and Angela Rivas
Around the MMC dorming squad 69 percent wore their mask correctly, 18 percent wore it incorrectly, and 13 percent didn’t wear a mask / graphics by Elise Gregg and Angela Rivas

MANGO 

Open tables fill the building as few people dine inside MANGO / photo by Emiliana Fawley-Puello

The mixed smell of Taco Bell and Panda Express, the screams of Starbucks baristas calling out names, and groups of people looking for a table filled MANGO daily. 

Known as a spot on campus for students and faculty to catch up for lunch, this building always held lines of people buying tacos on the first floor. The rest of MANGO held classrooms. 

The pandemic forced all restaurants to shut down, just opening up a month ago, but the rush of people entering and exiting the building is still a distant reality. 

According to the data, almost 70 percent of the 226 people observed outside the building had their mask on correctly and 31 percent had it incorrectly or no mask at all. 

The entrance of MANGO was observed on March 18 from 3pm-4pm, March 19 from 9am – 10am and 3pm-4pm. We counted a total number of 226 people. 157 wore their mask correctly, 44 wore it incorrectly, and 25 wore no mask. Tables and chairs stand empty as students take food to go and restaurants stay closed  / graphics by Elise Gregg and Angela Rivas 
Around the premises of MANGO, 69 percent of people wore their mask correctly, 20 percent  wore it incorrectly, and 11 percent wore no mask / graphics by Elise Gregg and Angela Rivas 

PG5

Restaurants remain closed in PG-5 as the pandemic shifts operating hours / photo by Emiliana Fawley-Puello

For FIU students PG-5 is the garage to park their car when late to class and a place to grab lunch at Chick-fil-a. 

Home to traffic as students park their cars, the smell of coffee and donuts lingering from Dunkin Donuts, and crowds of students crossing the street to campus, was what this busy building looked like pre-pandemic.

Now, the street remains empty as two students cross and the number of available parking spots is higher than ever before. 

More than 80 percent of the 107 counted wore their mask correctly and 17 percent wore it incorrectly or had no mask at all. 

PG-5  was observed on March 18 from 4pm-5pm and a total number of 107 people were counted. 83 percent wore their mask correctly, 6 percent wore it incorrectly, and 11 percent didn’t wear a mask. The parking garages where students fight for a spot remains desolate as students study at home / graphics by Elise Gregg and Angela Rivas
In PG-5, 89 wore their mask correctly, 6  wore it incorrectly, and 12 wore no mask / graphics by Elise Gregg and Angela Rivas 

Biscayne Bay Campus

No cars flood the entrance to BBC /  photo by Rebeca Ortiz

Stunning waterfront views, boat docks, and unique facilities, such as the Aquarium Room, are some of what Biscayne Bay Campus has to offer.

BBC holds 7,000 students, compared to MMC which holds 49,000 and is 200 acres. 

Built right near the bay, this campus’ unique location gives students access to Florida’s richest aquatic ecosystems. The campus culture is called “the Bay Life”. 

As the pandemic hit, BBC campus became a “ghost town”, as many fled the only dorm building and the once quiet hallways are empty. 

Wolfe Center

An isolated Wolfe Center / photo by Rebeca Ortiz

Wolfe Center, the social hub of BBC, hosted students playing at the video game lounge or studying occupying all tables around the building.

Now, the chairs sit empty and in a space once bursting with panthers unwinding after class or hanging out with friends. 

Wolfe center has become a “ghost town” as FIU begins efforts to repopulate / video by Rebeca Ortiz 

PantherNOW recorded almost 90 percent of the 16 people counted wearing their mask correctly. 

Wolfe Center was observed on March 18 from 6pm-7pm and March 19 from 9am-10am  and a total number of 18 people were counted. 16 wore their mask correctly and 2 wore it incorrectly. Wolfe center has become a “ghost town” as FIU begins efforts to repopulate  / graphics by Elise Gregg and Angela Rivas 

Around the BBC Wolfe Center 88 percent wore their mask correctly and 11 percent wore it incorrectly / graphics by Elise Gregg and Angela Rivas

Glenn Hubert Library

No students in sight near the entrance of Glenn Hubert Library / photo by Rebeca Ortiz

This study spot on campus would be filled with students cramming for exams as the semester comes to an end and getting caffeine breaks at Starbucks. 

Instead, it remains quiet and isolated. The emptiness of the halls once filled with students lingers throughout the building. 

The data showed all of the 22 students counted wore their masks correctly. 

GH library  was observed on March 18 from 5pm-6pm and March 19 from 10am-11am and a total number of 22 people were counted. 22 wore their mask correctly. Silence from the emptiness of the library fills the hallways  / graphics by Elise Gregg and Angela Rivas 

Roary’s Bay Cafe

No one dines inside Roary’s Bay Cafe as people take their food to go / photo by Rebeca Ortiz

The cafe was only open for a semester and a half before the pandemic closed the campus. It offered different food options and games, but now sits empty, as the Coronavirus and limited opening hours derail students. 

PantherNOW recorded 100 percent of the 16 students counted wore their mask correctly.

Roary’s Bay Cafe was observed on March 19 from 11am-12pm and a total number of 16 people were counted. 16 wore their mask correctly. The unique food place stands empty as students take food to go / graphics by Elise Gregg and Angela Rivas

Academic Building II

One person sits in the empty entrance to the SCJ building / photo by Kimberly Aldunate

Academic II, FIU’s School of Communication and Journalism, is home to future media professionals embarking on their classes and preparing for jobs. This building was once filled with writers making their deadlines and rushing to class. 

Now, student journalists are adapting to reporting through onlines platforms and instead of running to interviews, they log onto Zoom. 

The data showed that more than 50 percent of the 68 people recorded wore their mask correctly. 

However 30 of those observed wore their mask incorrectly, under nose or chin, or simply had no mask at all. 

Academic II  was observed on March 19 from 5pm-6pm and a total number of 68 people were counted. 38 wore their mask correctly, 19 wore it incorrectly, 11 wore no mask. The building once filled with the rush of students remains barren / graphics by Elise Gregg and Angela Rivas
In Academic II, 56 percent wore their mask correctly, 28 percent wore it incorrectly, 16 percent wore no mask / graphics by Elise Gregg and Angela Rivas

Bayview Dorms

One person fills the lobby at Bayview as the pandemic keeps panthers at home/ photo by Rebeca Ortiz

The Miami skyline fills the window of the dorm rooms at Bayview housing as the laughter of  panthers echoed through the pool. The building was always filled with students visiting friends or going back to their room after a long day of class. 

Now, the Bayview finds itself empty with no crowds, as social distancing is required on all parts of campus, including dorms.

Around 73 percent of the 26 people counted obliged with the mask mandates. 

The data showed that 7 students were not following FIU guidelines to mask-wearing and wore it incorrectly or had none at the time of the survey. 

Bayview housing was observed on March 19 from 9am-10am and 5pm-6pm and a total number of 26 people were counted. 19 wore their mask correctly, 5 wore it incorrectly, 2 wore no mask. The home to those living on BBC campus stands empty / graphics by Elise Gregg and Angela Rivas
73 percent wore their mask correctly, 19 percent wore it incorrectly, 8 percent wore no mask / graphics by Elise Gregg and Angela Rivas

Though both campuses have remained lightly populated throughout the pandemic, PantherNOW found most of the FIU community starting to come back choosing to follow university mask regulations. 

Mask wearing is one way we can help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus and making sure our community follows the rules can keep us safer.

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