University mask mandate reinstated


Photo via Pace University Magazine

Lyndsey Brown, News Editor

11 days following the lifting of the mask requirement on University campuses, University officials have decided to reinstate the mandate. On March 30, the University announced that masks no longer will be required on campus, including in elevators and classrooms for the foreseeable future. However, on April 10, an email sent to students and staff announced that the mask mandate would be reinstated, following a surge of COVID-19 cases on campus.

Since the beginning of the spring semester, the University has relaxed its regulations, as New York City has had a significant decrease in COVID-19 cases. However, as cases gradually increase in the city, restrictions are being put back into place to keep those on campus safe and healthy.

Before the start of the semester, the Omicron variant hit New York, causing an influx of positive cases throughout the city. Because of this, the University’s campus alert levels switched from yellow to orange on Dec. 16, 2021, forcing classes to transition to a remote learning environment just a week before Winter break. This caused all in-person events to move to virtual formats and on-campus dining services to become grab-and-go-only. Residential students were not allowed to sign guests into the dorms through the end of the fall semester and could not have other student-residents in their rooms.

The following day, COVID-19 boosters became mandatory for all members of the University community who were to return to campus at the beginning of the Spring 2022 semester. Unless exempted, students were required to upload proof of vaccination to the University’s health portal. As students returned to campus in January, community testing was still enforced, and the first two weeks of classes were conducted remotely. After a strenuous period of remote learning, students returned to classrooms with mask requirements in place, as well as vaccine and booster requirements.

On March 3, it was announced that all campus alert levels would move to green, effective on March 7. This change coincided with the anticipated lift of the Key2NYC mandate by Mayor Eric Adams. The lift of this mandate made it so that throughout New York City, vaccines were no longer required in businesses such as indoor dining, gyms and entertainment venues. Mayor Adams also revoked the mask mandate for teachers and students in schools across the city.

On University campuses, masks were made optional for students everywhere, except for elevators and classrooms, as a result of this campus alert level change. The University remained a “mask-friendly environment” and encouraged students to socially distance themselves and remain off-campus if they were not feeling well. Students were also no longer required to fill out daily health screenings via the PaceSafe app. 

Another much-anticipated announcement was the lift of visitor restrictions on campus. Off-campus visitor access was restored with the requirement of visitors to be vaccinated or have a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of their visit. Capacity restrictions were also lifted for all events on campus.

The final COVID-19 restriction relaxation to come this semester took place on March 30. Executive Director of the Emergency Management and Environmental Health and Safety Brian Anderson announced via email that masks requirements on campus would be fully lifted on March 31. This shift was in line with “current guidance regulations from the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention and our state and local authorities,” according to Anderson.

However, on-campus COVID-19 levels rose after this announcement, and within ten days campus officials reversed this lift. COVID-19 alert levels were moved back to yellow only on the New York City campus on April 11. The Pleasantville and Haub Law campuses, however, remained at a green alert level. This change reinstated the mask mandate on all public spaces on campus. Randomized community testing was also reinstated for students, staff and faculty members on campus.

With this change, Pace hopes to return to green as soon as possible and to protect everyone in the community. Along with this final announcement, the University issued a set of recommendations for those on campus to stay safe and stop the spread of COVID-19: the University recommends wearing masks in all indoor public spaces, staying up to date on vaccines and boosters and protecting yourself by washing your hands, maintaining distance, testing and isolating if positive or experiencing symptoms.