NEIU continues to mandate masks on campus in contradiction to new federal, state and local guidelines updated as of Feb. 28, 2022.
NEIU should now give people the choice of whether or not to wear a mask by revising the COVID-19 Return to Campus Interim Policy (RCIP) in accordance with these new recommendations.
As of March 2, 2022, 88% of enrolled students and 95% of staff and faculty are fully vaccinated; another 77% of staff received their booster and 23% of students have reported the same.
The RCIP was last updated on Jan. 18, 2022. NEIU has said in a target announcement on Feb. 28, 2022 that it will “review the interim policy at the end of the Spring 2022 semester.”
However, according to new CDC guidance updated on Feb. 25, 2022 Cook County is no longer listed under a category where universal masking is urged. According to the CDC, the county is now classified as “low” in community transmission, in which the CDC says, “wear a mask based on your personal preference, informed by your personal level of risk.”
Even Chicago Public Schools (CPS) are planning to switch to an optional mask policy according to a March 8, 2022 NBC News article; a policy NEIU should follow in adopting. Unsurprisingly, the Chicago Teachers Union is promising to take legal action to challenge this move by CPS.
Governor Pritzker’s executive order that requires all students and staff at public universities to be fully vaccinated or submit to weekly COVID-19 testing remains in effect. The high vaccination rates, mandated boosters and low transmission in the county are all excellent reasons that NEIU should end its mask mandate.
We have to learn to acknowledge that this is now an endemic virus and we now have to live in anticipation, not fear. Let people choose whether or not to mask up and continue to provide the high quality masks—like KN95’s—for those university members who choose to continue wearing one.