Northwestern to maintain policies of no mask mandate and no general testing requirement until end of academic year


Angeli Mittal/Daily Senior Staffer

A Wednesday email from Vice President for Operations Luke Figora made no comment about the uptick of COVID-19 cases on campus after acknowledging the “high” transmission level in Evanston.

Maia Pandey, Campus Editor

Northwestern will maintain its policies of no mask mandate or required regular testing through the end of the year, absent any major changes to COVID-19 spread on campus, Vice President for Operations Luke Figora announced in a Thursday email.

The University has not observed any significant clusters of positive cases or transmission in classrooms, and the number of students in Quarantine and Isolation Housing remains far below capacity, Figora said. 

Last month, NU experienced its second highest positivity rate of the pandemic, with 304 positive cases reported in a week. Figora said the University used targeted mitigation measures to address these “small spikes” within residence halls. 

According to emails obtained by The Daily, these measures included asking students to refrain from hosting guests for a period of time and testing if symptomatic. While students in affected residence halls have received these emails, Thursday’s message marked the first campuswide communication regarding COVID-19 this quarter.

NU lifted its mask mandate in classrooms and other instructional spaces at the beginning of Spring Quarter. Unless directed otherwise as part of an approved disability accommodation through the Office of Equity or AccessibleNU, instructors and staff cannot require others to mask, Figora said.

“While masking is not required in most spaces, the University strongly recommends wearing a mask in areas where distancing is not possible,” Figora added. “If someone asks you to wear a mask in class or an office, we encourage you to honor that request.”

The University will assess its COVID-19 policies over the summer in consultation with public health officials and internal medical experts, he added.

While NU continues to share its weekly case numbers and positivity rates, Figora said public health officials have cited hospitalization and severe case data as “stronger indicators of community health.”

“Those indicators, too, continue to support our current approach,” Figora said. “We are encouraged by how the term has unfolded so far while we continue to monitor our community’s health daily.”

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @maiapandey

Related Stories:

Northwestern COVID-19 positivity rate stable amid decreasing testing on campus

NU admin has no plans to implement further mitigation measures as omicron subvariant cases rise

NU COVID-19 positivity rate reaches second highest of the pandemic with limited testing, no mask mandate