Mask mandate planned to end Mar. 21

JCU preps for return to mask optional environment.

Wikimedia Commons

JCU preps for return to mask optional environment.

Laken Kincaid, Campus Editor

Correction: A previous version of this article misstated the certainty of the mask mandate ending on March 21. Provost Steve Herbert’s March 3 email stated that it is the University’s “plan” to make classrooms mask optional on March 21. The initial article stated that “classrooms on campus would be ‘mask-optional'” on that date, erroneously implying that a final decision had been made. The article has been updated to reflect the fact that a final decision has not yet been made. 

On March 3, Provost Steve Herbert announced in an email to faculty and staff obtained by The Carroll News that the University plans to make classrooms on campus “mask-optional” starting March 21, a move that would effectively ending all mask requirements at the University. 

Herbert said that, because case numbers remained low after the mask mandate was lifted outside of classrooms on Feb. 14 and because there are limited cases in Cuyahoga County in general, conditions would likely seem safe to end the mandate totally on March 21. According to the email, that date was selected to provide enough time to evaluate if spring break travel caused  COVID-19 rates to increase. 

The email also emphasized that anyone may continue to wear their mask if they choose to, and that those who test positive for the coronavirus and anyone not feeling well should wear their mask (the former requires masking for five days). Professors are allowed to ask for students to wear masks during class and their office hours, but they cannot require it. 

Herbert also noted that mask wearing could resume if infection rates increase again.

“I think it’s a step in the right direction to going back to normal, but it will be a weird adjustment,” Sydnie Oakleaf ‘25 told The Carroll News. “As someone who is immunocompromised but also triple vaxxed, I’ll definitely be happy for this change, but hesitant about the outcome for people around me who I might come into contact with. It will just seem weird after two years of wearing masks everywhere, but I’m excited to get back to normal.”

Update (3/18): In a second email on March 18, Herbert clarified his initial announcement, writing that the COVID-19 Task Force will meet in the morning of March 21 to make a decision regarding masking on campus. He noted that the University has “received input from several sources on our proposed plan for lifting the mandate and we will discuss how best to address the concerns we have heard.” He concluded by indicating that the University hopes to provide an update on the Task Force’s decision later that day. 

This is a developing story. Follow this space for further updates.