Is RIC’s mask mandate really lifted?

Raymond Baccari

News Editor

Graphic created by Caroline Niehoff

RIC’s mask mandate will be lifted on March 21. But there’s a catch.


“I am writing with an important update to RIC’s COVID-19 mitigation policies. Based upon the latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control, conferring with our peers, and thoughtful input from our own COVID-19 Steering Committee, I am pleased to announce that as of Monday March 21, 2022 masks will be optional on the RIC campus – with the exception of select settings,” said President Sánchez in a campus-wide email. “Masks will still be required in all classrooms, faculty offices and classroom labs, and student services offices (i.e., Student Health Services, Counseling Center, Disability Services and tutoring), unless the professor, staff member or tutor expressly waives that requirement.”


This is a similar approach that the University of Rhode Island is doing.


“While wearing masks in most indoor areas is optional, please keep in mind there remains a benefit to masking and there are people in our community who will continue to wear them. Please respect their decisions,” URI’s masking policy states.


The majority of students at RIC spend most of their time in classes or in Donovan Dining Center. Those students may not see changes in regard to wearing masks. Sánchez explains the reasoning for the classrooms to keep masks unless the professor waives the requirement:


“We must be mindful that the classroom is the one place in which every student and faculty member will spend at least some time in a given week. It is a smaller, more closed environment than most other indoor areas of campus, and people are closer together. Some of our faculty are at higher risk for COVID-19, or live with close family members who are, and yet remain committed to classroom instruction. This one simple mitigation effort honors that commitment and affords added protection.”


Masks are still required in clinical settings and off-campus placements. This update in the RIC’s masking requirements doesn't change its vaccination requirements.


The conditional lifting of the college’s mask mandate raises a crucial question: is the mask mandate really lifted? Yes, but with a caveat. Only if the professor, staff member or tutor waives the mask requirement in their class. Otherwise, the only change is that masks aren’t required outdoors as of March 21.


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