Northwestern to lift mask mandate in classrooms at start of Spring Quarter


Daily file photo by Angeli Mittal

The Arch in fall. Just weeks after removing a mask mandate in communal spaces, Northwestern announced it will not require masks in classroom settings beginning in Spring Quarter.

Jacob Fulton and Isabel Funk

Masking will no longer be required in Northwestern’s classrooms and instructional spaces starting March 29, the first day of Spring Quarter, Vice President for Operations Luke Figora announced Tuesday.

The announcement comes just weeks after the University lifted its masking requirements in communal spaces, including Norris University Center and NU Libraries. 

NU continues to “strongly recommend” masking in spaces where distancing is not possible and as students return from Spring Break, the email stated.

University President Morton Schapiro told The Daily Tuesday that, last he was informed, campus COVID-19 positive numbers are in the single digits. NU’s COVID-19 Dashboard was last updated Thursday, reporting 45 total positive cases from March 4 to 10 — a 1.43% positivity rate. Undergraduates comprised 20 of the cases during that week.

Take-home COVID-19 tests are being distributed to students ahead of the break, and students are required to complete one in-person test during the first week of Spring Quarter. In-person testing sites will be open for extended hours at the beginning of Spring Quarter and free surgical masks remain available at the entrances of most buildings. 

“Some people continue to wear masks due to medical conditions or as a measure of protection for vulnerable loved ones at home,” the email states. “Others wear masks for personal comfort. And some never want to wear another mask again. No matter an individual’s choices, we are committed to respecting and supporting one another.” 

Instructors cannot require masking of others except in cases of approved disability accommodations through the Office of Equity or AccessibleNU, Figora wrote.

Although not required, Figora wrote masking is still best in most circumstances.

Masking remains required on campus shuttles and in University health settings. Individual indoor campus events may also require masks.

Email: [email protected] 

Twitter: @jacobnfulton

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @isabeldfunk

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