Face Masks No Longer Required on the U’s Campus

Students+at+the+University+of+Utah+are+following+the+COVID-19+guidelines+by+wearing+masks+while+working+on+campus.+%28Photo+by+Abu+Asib+%7C+The+Daily+Utah+Chronicle%29

Abu Sufian Mohammad Asib

Students at the University of Utah are following the COVID-19 guidelines by wearing masks while working on campus. (Photo by Abu Asib | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Kayleigh Silverstein, Assistant News Editor

As of May 24, 2021 masks will no longer be required at University of Utah facilities following state legislation banning face mask requirements. Masks are still required in U Health facilities and on-campus buses and shuttles.

“All job-related personal protective equipment (PPE) safety requirements will continue to be enforced consistent with federal regulations and best practices for worker safety,” said Chris Nelson, the U communications director, in an email interview.

The statement released by U communications still encourages students to get vaccinated, highlighting the free, weekly asymptomatic coronavirus testing and vaccination clinic that will continue on campus throughout the summer.

“Regardless of what someone chooses (mask or no mask), the university seeks to foster a sense of community and asks everyone on campus to be respectful of individual decisions on mask wearing,” the statement reads.

Additionally, according to a recent survey of faculty and students, 90% of respondents have been vaccinated or plan to be vaccinated in the coming weeks.

The campus-wide policy change came after the CDC updated its guidelines to say fully vaccinated individuals can resume activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing themselves.

The U’s new policy is in accordance with state legislation H.B. 1007, a bill prohibiting Utah schools from requiring face masks. On Wednesday, May 19 the bill passed in both the House and Senate. Gov. Spencer J. Cox called state legislators to meet in a special session to discuss 22 issues — one of them being the prohibition of face mask requirements.

Some against the bill said it may be too early to ban mask mandates, and the potential for future outbreaks should be considered. However, the bill does not prevent schools from working with local health departments if future outbreaks do occur.

Additionally, some legislators disagreed with the premise of the state setting health standards for local school districts.

Rep. Val Peterson, a sponsor of the bill, hopes its passage will assure parents and students they will return to a normal situation in Fall 2021.

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