Vaccinated faculty can choose to forgo face masks while teaching in-person classes, according to university officials.
EVANSTON, IL — Northwestern University officials announced a new indoor mask mandate for everyone on campus, with some exceptions.
Masking remains optional outside, and fully vaccinated faculty who are teaching in-person may choose to do so without a mask, as long as they maintain adequate social distancing, according to the new policy.
The mask mandate applies in all shared indoor spaces on campus, other than private offices, personal residences or residence hall rooms — or when actively eating or drinking, according to a statement from Luke Figora, the university’s vice president of operations.
Figora said Northwestern officials would revisit the masking requirements late this month after learning more data about local coronavirus trends.
“Over the past few weeks, we have seen a slight increase in the number of positive cases identified through on-campus testing or submitted through the self-reporting portal,” Figora said. “Some of those cases have occurred in fully vaccinated individuals, and thankfully those individuals have had only minor symptoms. Importantly, none of these cases has resulted from any on-campus transmission.”
According to the university’s COVID-19 dashboard, there have been 11 new coronavirus cases during the week ending Thursday, including five among staff, two among faculty and two among students.
In May, university officials announced that coronavirus vaccinations would be required for all students who want to take part in on-campus programs. And, in June, administrators said faculty and staff would also need to be vaccinated — or be required to submit to twice-weekly COVID-19 testing.
Faculty and staff had until the start of this week to report their vaccination status to university officials or be considered unvaccinated. Unlike students, university employees have not been required to request an exception until a COVID-19 vaccine receives full approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Figora said Wednesday that nearly 30,000 students, faculty and staff have so far confirmed they have been vaccinated.
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