Mask mandates are making a comeback at several universities, even as the school year winds down and most students have left campus for summer vacation.
UCLA, the University of Hawaii system, and Penn State all announced in recent days that masks would be required in all indoor settings on campus.
The announcement has substantial implications for UCLA, which has not yet held its 2022 commencement ceremonies and will now require all attendees to wear face masks indoors for the various commencement events scheduled between June 10-12.
UNIVERSITIES REINSTATE MASK MANDATES DESPITE CDC GUIDELINES
"The past few weeks have revealed a consistent rise in COVID-19 cases in Los Angeles County and on our campus," the university's COVID-19 task force announced Friday. "Last week alone, UCLA had close to 870 new cases, which, per the UCLA COVID-19 Pivot Matrix, would place us at the 'severe' level. It is important for us to respond to the current trends so that we can reduce the risk of infection without disruption to in-person learning and campus activities, including commencement celebrations."
During graduation ceremonies, speakers will be allowed to remove their masks while giving their speeches, while graduates will be permitted to remove their masks when walking across the stage to accept their diplomas.
Anyone in the UCLA community is already required to submit a weekly COVID-19 test, regardless of vaccination status. Both the testing and the mask requirements are set to be in place until June 15 unless further extended.
The other universities that announced a return to mask requirements included the University of Delaware, Penn State, and the University of Hawaii system. All cited an increase in coronavirus cases on campus as the reason for reimplementing the mandate.
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The universities join a list of schools that have re-implemented mask mandates after dropping them following the release of CDC guidelines on masking in February.
Colleges including Georgetown University, George Washington University, and the University of Connecticut all returned to mandatory mask-wearing in late April.