By RICHIE MALOUF
THE CENTER SQUARE STAFF REPORTER
(The Center Square) — As the school year draws to an end, American universities around the country are reinstating mask mandates.
Among them is UCSB.
The university announced Thursday that it would require masks in classrooms and other indoor settings, beginning today.
“In consultation with our campus medical experts, the Academic Senate, student leaders, deans, members of the staff and administration, public health officials, and medical colleagues systemwide, UC Santa Barbara has decided to require masking in classrooms and other indoor campus shared spaces starting May 27 and through June 12, 2022,” UCSB announced on its website, ucsb.edu.
“In an effort to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19, the university will require indoor masking on campus during the remaining weeks of instruction and through finals and Commencement weekend,” UCSB said.
“All indoor spaces on campus, including research spaces, are subject to the masking requirement, with the exception of individual residences in campus housing, dining halls while eating, or individual offices with one person with the door closed,” UCSB said in its website announcement.
Elsewhere, UCLA sent out an email to its students on Thursday, stating that its mask mandate “will go back into effect beginning Friday, May 27 and remain in place through Wednesday, June 15.”
Not all students are on board with the policy change, however.
“We are already one of the strictest schools with COVID; not only do we have to be vaccinated and boosted, but we also have to be tested weekly and fill out a symptom monitoring survey,” said Stella Foreman, a UCLA freshman.
The University of Hawaii at Manoa’s website states, “effective Wednesday, May 25, face masks are once again required indoors across the University of Hawai’i System, except when working alone or separated from others by 6 feet or more.”
Regardless of how students may feel, more universities around the nation are following suit and implementing mask mandates again.
“The University of Delaware is reinstating its masking requirement for all indoor spaces, effective at 8 a.m., Tuesday, May 24,” according to a post made in the university’s newspaper, UDaily.
George Washington University extended its masking policy “for all university-owned or -operated facilities, including classrooms, until further notice,” according to its website. The university acknowledged “rates of positive COVID-19 cases have dramatically decreased in the region and on our campuses.” However, the school said “rates still remain at a high level compared to other phases of the pandemic.
“In addition, we anticipate an increase of positive cases due to increased travel and gatherings over the spring break period,” the school added.
Some universities, however, will not reimpose mask mandates on their students.
American University, also located in Washington, D.C., decided to drop its mask mandate as of May 23.
Meanwhile, Americans are less worried about the pandemic than in the past.
According to a poll conducted by the Pew Research Center, “just 19% of Americans rate the coronavirus outbreak as a very big problem for the country, the lowest share out of 12 issues included in the survey.”
Turning their attention away from COVID-19, “the public views inflation as the top problem facing the United States – and no other concern comes close.”
News-Press Managing Editor Dave Mason contributed to this story.