BREAKING: University to remove mask mandate next week
The policy change makes masks optional in classrooms and most campus locations
The American University administration will remove its mask mandate starting Monday, according to an email sent to the AU community by President Sylvia Burwell and other administrators Tuesday.
Masks will now be optional in most campus locations, including classrooms, labs, office spaces, residence halls, dining facilities, event spaces, libraries and fitness centers, according to the email.
Masks are still mandatory in campus medical facilities, including the Student Health Center, Counseling Center and COVID-19 testing sites, as well as on the AU shuttle bus and inside any AU vehicle used for public transportation per the extended mask requirement for public transportation systems from the federal government.
The updated mask policy follows recent guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and DC Health as weekly case and hospitalization rates continue to fall. DC Health has determined the current COVID-19 community transmission level is “low,” as the percent of COVID-19 confirmed positive cases who were hospitalized due to COVID-19 in D.C. are at an all-time low this year.
The University will also resume full capacity attendance for events in Bender Arena and AU performing arts spaces with masks optional in most cases. All outside visitors must continue to follow AU’s vaccine requirements. For off-campus events, students must comply with the COVID-19 guidelines for the location where the event is taking place.
The administration asked community members to treat others with “respect and give them full consideration” if they ask others to wear a mask when in close contact, such as faculty in classrooms and staff in offices.
The KN95 mask distribution sites will continue operating, according to the email from Burwell.
“The science shows that wearing KN95s and N95s, as opposed to cloth masks, provides strong protections for individuals including in situations where others might be unmasked,” Burwell said.
Citing a “community of care,” Burwell said that community members may continue to wear masks in any setting or location based on their individual preferences.
“The pandemic is moving from a public health situation requiring comprehensive preventative steps taken by all community members to one where the health system is stable and individual decisions become the primary avenue for supporting health,” Burwell wrote.
According to Katherine Greenstein, president of AU’s Disabled Student Union, members of DSU, AU PRIDE and the Public Health Association are planning a rally in protest of the University’s updated mask policy on Sunday at 1 p.m. on the quad. The Eagle has contacted these organizations for comment.
This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.