For the first time since March of 2020, the mask policy at the University of Hartford is changing to designate certain areas as face covering optional zones.
These changes are said to be put into effect immediately, as per an email sent to all UHart community members Tuesday afternoon.
This decision was reached by the COVID-19 Planning Group, (also known as the Response Team), after continued low rates of infection in the weeks after students returned from Spring Break. This, along with high vaccination rates, resulted in a decision to adopt mask policies more in line with the rest of the local Hartford community.
The new policy stresses that masks are still required in a classroom setting, unless a faculty or staff member specifies otherwise. It also includes that certain locations like COVID-19 testing sites and Health Services will remain masked to ensure public safety.
The email also discusses mask policies for Commencement in May. While they aren’t mandated, they are “highly encouraged,” by school officials. At this moment, graduating students have no limit as to how many guests they can invite to the ceremony.
“I like it,” says Emily Milano, a 1st year Illustration major. “I wish it was mandatory in all classrooms, but in places like the library it makes sense.”
While some community members have expressed relief towards the policy shift, there are many that believe that this shift would be better for the beginning of the Fall Semester, rather than in the last few weeks of the Spring.
Dr. Kristin Comeforo, an Associate Professor of Communication, believes that the change was made without consulting the UHart community. “I think it is a poor decision so close to the end of the semester.”
“There are students that may not have the power to advocate for themselves as immunocompromised. It’s unfair to put that responsibility on their shoulders.”
The COVID-19 Planning Group still emphasizes the importance of bringing masks everywhere on campus, even if they are being taken off in more spaces than before. They also ask that community members remain respectful to others preferences and self-protection.
At this time, off-campus guests are still allowed to attend events or classes if they provide proof of vaccination. They are still prohibited from entering residential spaces.