Covering the Land of Lincoln

UI ends mask mandate for summer 2022 in-person classes

Sydney Laput

A set of N95 masks that were handed out for free for students a part of University Housing at the beginning of the spring 2022 semester. The University has decided to lift the mask mandate for in-person classes over the summer 2022 session.

The University will no longer require masks to be worn during domesticperson summer classes, according to a mass mail.

This decision was announced alongside other changes to the University’s COVID-19 policies, including having only one on-campus testing location and removing wellness support associates checking for building access.

“The door checks were just one of the protocols,” said Robin Kaler, associate chancellor for Public Affairs. “For example, we also have a vaccine mandate, improved HVAC systems in buildings, and we continue to monitor the spread of the virus through our testing program.”

Unvaccinated students, faculty and staff are still required to test, Kaler said.

According to the Massmail, the community testing that was previously held on campus will now relocate to Parkland Community College.

“Due to logistics and demand, we are downsizing to one on-campus COVID-19 testing site at the Illini Union,” the Massmail said.

The University has not yet decided on its COVID-19 policy for the coming fall semester, according to the Massmail.

“This decision was made following the process we’ve used throughout the pandemic following science, data and consultation (from) the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District and other public health authorities,” Kaler said.

In response to the change in mask policy, the Graduate Employees’ Organization began circulating a petition urging the University to reinstate the mask mandate in classrooms and all indoor University spaces.

Elizabeth Schwartz, a graduate student studying information science and member of the GEO’s disability caucus, opposed the lifting of the mask mandate.

“This struggle to ensure that there is a mask mandate for the safety of workers and students and community members at the University has been going on now for months,” Schwartz said.

According to Schwartz, the University announced the end of its mask mandate a week before it took effect, which left many teacher’s assistants and workers no time to pursue accommodations if necessary.

“There (are) no lives that are disposable — no bodies who are disposable and adhering to a policy from a state that believes that is a terrible policy,” Schwartz said. “The (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) can say, ‘Well hospitalizations are down and the only people being hospitalized are elderly or disabled, so we don’t care’ but that doesn’t mean the University also doesn’t have to take care.”

Schwartz believes the University needs to acknowledge that COVID-19 remains present and reinstate the mask mandate.

“The other thing that we need to do that’s so extremely simple, is we need to care for each other,” Schwartz said. “The fact of the matter is, whether you know it or not, you interact with people who are high risk for COVID-19 every single day.”

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