In Education

Another US College Just Reinstated Mask Mandates For Students

Rhode Island College reinstated its mask mandate for the spring 2023 semester Wednesday, making it the latest college to require masks in response to “high” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) community levels.

The Rhode Island school will require masks to be worn in “classrooms, faculty offices, labs and student services staff offices,” but not while inside all campus buildings, according to its announcement Wednesday. The University of Massachusetts Boston (UMass Boston) reinstated its mask mandate on Monday and Duke University said that it would require masks if case numbers remain high for two weeks.

Rhode Island College students who received a religious or medical exemption are required to wear masks and undergo weekly testing “until vaccination is decided and completed.” Professors, staff members and tutors can choose to waive the mandate in their classrooms or offices.

“We believe this adjusted policy achieves the appropriate balance of safeguarding the health and wellbeing of our community while remaining practical and consistent,” the announcement reads. “With the majority of the public vaccinated, effective treatments readily available, and life outside of campus largely returned to pre-pandemic norms, the necessity of more stringent mitigation measures has been significantly reduced. Furthermore, with most students, faculty and staff traveling to and from places without mask mandates on a daily basis, continuing to require masks in all situations on campus will be less effective and more difficult to enforce.”

Providence County, in which the college is located, reported a “high” COVID-19 risk level since Jan. 6, referencing data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The school pledged to reinstate the mandate any time “conditions worsen, or if there are outbreaks on campus,” according to the announcement. Classes resume on Jan. 17 for the spring semester.

Similarly, UMass Boston requires masks be worn “in public indoor spaces on the UMass Boston campus” and “in crowded outdoor settings.”  This includes “classrooms, hallways, elevators, restrooms, break rooms, entries and exits to buildings, laboratories, meeting rooms, shared offices, and work areas.”

UMass Boston recommends people wear medical-grade masks rather than cloth masks in accordance with CDC guidelines, according to its website, and also disallows eating and drinking inside the classroom because of “the current health situation.”

The mandate applies to everyone on campus regardless of vaccination status.

The CDC reported Suffolk County, where UMass Boston is located, has a “high” community level. Classes resume for the spring semester on Jan. 23.

Duke University said that it may reinstate its mask mandate if Durham County continues to record high case numbers for the next two weeks, the student newspaper The Chronicle reported on Monday. Masks are currently required while on university transportation, despite the mandate being lifted on Sept. 22.

“We are seeing an expected surge in COVID and other respiratory illnesses following the holidays and new variants that are proving to be more contagious,” Carol Epling, executive director of Employee Occupational Health and Wellness, and John Vaughn, director of Student Health Services and assistant vice president for Student Affairs, wrote in a Monday email to students, faculty and staff.

Classes resume on Jan. 12 for the spring semester.

Purchase College, which is part of the State University of New York system, announced in December that it would require masks be worn inside public buildings. The mandate is still in order, according to its website.

Rhode Island College, UMass Boston, Duke University and Purchase College did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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