Belmont students call for 'COVID housing,' better enforcement of mask mandate

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Posted at 12:12 PM, Nov 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-10 19:44:52-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — A group of Belmont University students gathered to protest the school’s COVID-19 protocols.

Several students gathered for a “vaxx up, mask up” protest Wednesday and then marched around campus. Students called for Belmont to better-enforce its indoor mask mandate, claiming the school has “significantly relaxed” enforcing it.

When asked if she felt safe on campus, student Natalie Schilling said, “not really.”

“I know when I walk through campus, I see so many students and some our faculty not wearing masks. Also, the 70% vaccination rate on campus is really alarming to me,” said Schilling. “The lack of masking and the lack of COVID housing and all of these protections really threaten my safety and the safety of students here on campus.”

Schilling said they want COVID housing reinstated for students who test positive, so they do not have to stay in a hotel or Airbnb while they quarantine/isolate. She said the school does provide temporary housing for students who test positive but said it's unclear how long that housing is available.

“People are angry and people are scared, and we should not be afraid on a campus where we spend $50,000 plus to keep us safe and to pay for our housing and this is so extremely frustrating. We should not be afraid to walk through our halls. The Belmont administration should be taking care of us and they’re not,” Schilling added.

Belmont University provided a statement to NewsChannel 5, reading in part:

The health and safety of Belmont students, faculty and staff is always a priority and at the forefront of our minds as we try to provide students with an in-person living and learning experience this term. As has been the case throughout the pandemic, our COVID-19 task force, appointed by and in regular contact with the president, is constantly monitoring conditions and case counts on Belmont’s campus and in Nashville. This team is also in frequent communication with local and state health officials and uses these inputs to evaluate protocols on a regular basis.


All individuals on Belmont’s campus are required to wear masks when indoors, a policy that’s been in place—and broadly and frequently communicated—since August 10. In addition, all employees have been told that they are empowered to enforce this mandate at any time, and any student or employee who refuses to comply would be considered in violation of the campus’ code of conduct.


Given that the vaccine was widely available, Belmont made it a priority in early spring to make in person living and learning happen, and all Belmont housing was reserved by current students at that time for the fall semester. This summer we made it clear to every student and their family that they should prepare for an off-campus quarantine plan should the need arise. In addition, we worked with a nearby partner to secure transitional and emergency housing for students who are unable to access any other option for their isolation or quarantine. That housing has been made available for any student without another option.

The university also cited its declining case counts, adding that "on a campus of more than 10,000 students, faculty and staff, we had only 6 total cases this week." Belmont said its current health and safety protocols can also be found online.