By: Chaim Book  | 

YU To Lift Mask Mandate In Most Indoor Spaces

YU will lift its university-wide mask mandate in most indoor spaces on the Beren and Wilf campuses beginning Monday, Feb. 28, the COVID Monitoring Team announced to students in an email on Feb. 24. 

The mandate will remain in effect in classrooms, unless a professor decides otherwise, and on the YU Shuttle. Students with vaccine or booster exemptions must continue to wear masks as usual. Additionally, the email noted, Cardozo School of Law and Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology still have the mandate in place. Students are still required to test each week in YU’s campus testing centers. 

This move comes as COVID-19 restrictions gradually ease up across New York City (NYC) and cases remain consistently low, including on campus. According to the YU COVID-19 Tracker, there have been only two positive cases out of over 1,200 tests on both Wilf and Beren campuses between Feb 13-18. Some NYC universities, such as New York University, still have mask mandates in place. 

In their email, the COVID Monitoring Team noted that this decision was made “after consultation with our medical director and in line with the latest state health recommendations.” 

“As we gradually return to a robust, pre-pandemic campus atmosphere, we want to express our gratitude for your collective effort in helping to diminish the spread of the virus,” the email stated. “Our YU values call us to put the needs of others first. Therefore, as always, our actions moving forward will prioritize the best interests of our community.” 

Although YU’s mandate has been in effect since the second week of school, the university has struggled to enforce it on campus. As the fall semester neared completion, the university essentially stopped enforcing the mandate altogether, except for security guards requesting students take a mask upon entering a building. 

Many students support the decision. “It’s about time that it ended. We need to be able to fully go back to normal. There’s still more to be done, but this is a step in the right direction,” Student Organization of Yeshiva Public Relations Secretary Ezra Emerson (SSSB ‘23) told the Commentator. 

Back in April, YU announced that all students needed to be vaccinated before Fall 2021, with few medical and religious exceptions. Initially, masks were not required for vaccinated individuals who submitted a negative PCR test prior to move-in. After holding an emergency meeting on Aug. 24, the YU Faculty Council sent a resolution to the administration requesting that masks be mandated indoors for all individuals, regardless of vaccination status. That Sunday, Aug. 29, the university announced a temporary, indoor mask mandate in all campus buildings, excluding residence halls and dining halls. At the end of the fall semester, with the onset of the Omicron variant and many students testing positive, students and staff were informed that they will be required to receive the booster shot before returning in the spring. The booster shot mandate was met with significant opposition from both parents and students. 

Despite the easing of restrictions, the COVID Monitoring Team will continue to monitor the spread of COVID-19 across NYC and campus, the email noted. It also encouraged students who wish to continue wearing masks voluntarily, requesting  “that the entire campus community respect and support all those who continue to wear masks going forward.”

Photo Caption: The new policy will take effect Monday, Feb. 28.

Photo Credit: Micah Pava