Northwestern will no longer require masking in most public spaces


Daily file photo by Joanne Haner

Northwestern will no longer require masking in most public spaces beginning Monday.

Isabel Funk, Campus Editor

Northwestern will soon no longer require masking in most public spaces and non-classroom communal areas, including Norris University Center, libraries and residence halls, the University announced in a Thursday email. 

Beginning Monday, masks will be optional in most spaces, but remain required in classrooms until at least March 19, the last day of Winter Quarter for most students. Showing proof of vaccination will also no longer be required. Further information regarding Spring Quarter classroom modality will be announced in the coming weeks, the email said.

The announcement follows Evanston’s Wednesday update that masking will no longer be required citywide, in accordance with state guidelines. 

While Evanston’s case numbers have generally been declining since January, NU has seen cases rise on campus for two consecutive weeks, reporting 206 new positive cases last week. The number of cases increased by nearly 69% and the positivity rate rose to 4.35%.

Masking will still be required on campus shuttles and in University health settings like COVID-19 testing sites and Counseling and Psychological Services, the email read.

In the email, the University encouraged students, faculty and staff to continue masking “if that makes them more comfortable.” But NU added instructors and managers are not permitted to require masking of others except as part of an approved medical accommodation through the Office of Equity or AccessibleNU.

“Northwestern continues to monitor the campus health environment closely, as well as the trajectory of the pandemic, and we will make adjustments to masking guidance and other mitigation strategies as needed, always in consultation with our health advisors,” the email stated.

NU will also remove the color-coded Campus Activity Level framework, used to evaluate the COVID-19 levels on campus, from its COVID-19 Dashboard, stating it does not account for the complexities of pandemic developments. However, the University’s COVID-19 website will continue to be updated with weekly updates on positivity levels.

The University also announced it will continue to suspend the distribution of at-home tests as the school’s supply is limited “for the foreseeable future.” Free KN95 masks remain available for pick-up on both the Evanston and Chicago campuses.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @isabeldfunk

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