University-wide mask mandate lifted, no longer requiring masks in classrooms

Jaeden Pinder, Arts Editor

The University’s school-wide mask mandate was lifted entirely on March 31, informing students masks are no longer required in classrooms and elevators. The email announcement was sent out to all University members on March 30 and still recommended that anyone who wishes to continue to wear a mask or isn’t feeling well can and is encouraged to wear one.

However, students who are medically or religiously excused from getting vaccinated are still required to wear masks on campus.

 

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This announcement follows a series of regulation relaxations over February and March, where COVID cases have rapidly declined since the beginning of the semester. In the week leading up to the release, 12 new cases were detected on campus and a total of 43 cases have been reported since January as opposed to the 182 cases reported during the fall semester.

In December 2021, the highly transmittable Omicron variant surged cases in both New York City and on campus. On Dec. 16, 2021, campus alert levels shifted to orange, which moved the final week of classes to remote learning, and all in-person activities and operations were suspended.

After two weeks of remote learning, the campus alert level was lowered to yellow on Feb. 10, allowing for University students to continue in-person learning and events. Masks under this level were still required in all areas, except in outdoor areas or while eating in Cafe 101.

On March 3, the level was lowered to green, which made mask usage optional across campus, except in classrooms. The move to the green level no longer required community testing and daily check-ins on the PaceSafe app, and residential students could now invite non-University students to campus and their dorms (albeit providing proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test).

The latest announcement states that this move is to help begin the phase dubbed the “New Normal” where the University can slowly move towards integrating pre-pandemic protocols alongside NYS regulations, as put out by the CDC. The University has acknowledged that in the case of another rise in COVID cases, regulations will be reinstated.

Response to this announcement has been varied, as the statement came with short notice, and some have feared what this may mean for immuno-compromised students.

Psychology major Faith Gregory recognizes this shift as “inevitable,” but still feels uncertain about what this means for more vulnerable students, as cases are still being reported with a new subvariant on the rise.

“You can only protect yourself to a certain extent when you’re wearing a mask and nobody else is. Hopefully it won’t happen here at Pace, but there’s also a risk of being intimidated into no longer wearing a mask,” Gregory said.

Economics and Communications major Julia Dorochenko still plans on wearing a mask in the classroom.

“I know a lot of schools that have already gone maskless, but I still feel more comfortable wearing a mask, and I feel more comfortable when other people are wearing masks,” Dorochenko said.

She continued, “I don’t necessarily know when I’d be in favor of it, but I’m not vehemently opposed [either].”

In discussing how the University plans to implement mask requirements for medically and religiously exempt students, Gregory continued, “Part of going back to ‘normal’ includes lack of intervention and regulation of masking…I think they’re leaving it to the students to keep some sort of honor code, so I’m only hoping that those people abide by that statement to protect themselves and others.”

The University and The Pace Press still advise students to remain healthy and mindful throughout this shift and the remaining semester. Physically distance yourself when possible, wash your hands throughout the day and plan to stay home if you are feeling sick.

COVID testing is available through the University Health Center, which can be reached by phone number at (212) 346-1600 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays, or through your patient portal. Further information can be found on the University website here.