Students permitted to unmask in class — at the discretion of their professors

Gabe Miller

For the first time in more than two years, students will be able to unmask during class. Effective Tuesday, April 12, the College allows individual faculty members to set masking rules for their classes, Chief Communications Officer Jim Reische announced in an all-campus email on Friday.

The College’s most recent decision to relax its masking policy follows a seven-day average COVID-19 positivity rate of 0.59 percent after many students returned to campus from spring break, according to the College’s COVID dashboard. Reische wrote that masking in classes will be considered the default, and students must continue to mask unless professors say they can unmask, adding that even in classes where the requirement is dropped, students may choose to continue masking.

This announcement comes after a March 16 faculty meeting during which President Maud S. Mandel expressed aspirations to make masking in classes optional after spring break if on-campus positivity rates remained low.

Last Friday’s policy change is the latest in a long line of relaxed masking policies. With these changes, the only masking requirements remaining are for indoor events that include off-campus visitors. On Feb. 21, faculty members were given the discretion to unmask while teaching if they believed it would enhance instruction and they could maintain distance. On March 21, over spring break, the mask mandate for libraries ended, making masks “encouraged” instead of “required.” As of Feb. 28, fully vaccinated and boosted students, faculty, and staff were allowed to unmask in indoor athletics facilities, academic and administrative buildings, and at events that are open only to members of the campus community.