University Mask Mandate’s End Is Up in the Air

February 16, 2022

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NEIU’s current listed rate of vaccination on the “Return to Campus” web page has not yet been updated for this semester’s employee and student body. According to Dr. Sharron Heimbaugh, Director of Student Health Services, there are expected to be updated numbers of this semester’s current rate of vaccination “within the next couple of weeks.” 

In addition to figures on the rate of full-vaccination of the university body, there will also be information on the rate of university members who have received a booster, as boosters are now required. This will mean that there will now be data on full vaccination status and what the CDC calls “up-to-date” vaccination, i.e. fully vaccinated and boosted. 

Mask policies will remain in force until the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) update their regulations and recommendations. Therefore, NEIU will not drop the mask mandate based on metrics like high vaccination or booster status or covid case rates dropping below a certain threshold. 

In a Feb. 9 press conference, the Governor’s office stated that “preparing to repeal statewide masking mandates at the end of the month is aggressive and optimistic, but it’s also reasonable…it’s an acknowledgement that cases have fallen to an acceptable or manageable level. Hospitals can handle the sick, businesses are likely to be able to stay open, the cushion of immunity from just so many omicron cases will help shield us.”

In the event that the State’s recommendations change and the City’s do not, Heimbaugh said the university “would probably go by [the] Chicago” recommendations. However, there could be a chance that those recommendations come into conflict with standing executive orders from the Governor’s office. Heimbaugh added, “So right now, we’re just kind of in a waiting period.”

 

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