Over the past few weeks, the college school year has again been interrupted by COVID-19, with some universities in America bringing back mask mandates. Those experiencing a return to stricter COVID measures include college campuses in New York, Washington, D.C., Maryland, Texas, and Pennsylvania.
Universities that have reintroduced mask mandates include Columbia University, American University, Johns Hopkins University, Georgetown University, and Rice University. These institutions have already mandated a fully vaccinated status for all students and staff. For Columbia University, the rule led to a 99% compliance rate.
“Based on the current situation and in an abundance of caution, we will require wearing non-cloth masks in classrooms,” an announcement from Columbia stated on April 10. In a more recent statement, Columbia officials said, “We anticipate making no charges in our current campus COVID-19 guideline unless New York City puts in place measures that we would be required to follow.”
Rice University, based in Houston, lifted its COVID-19 efforts only to reverse the policy after a few weeks due to rising cases of COVID-19.
2022 is the third academic year in which most college campuses have implemented requirements to reduce the spread of COVID-19. The third cycle of soon-to-be seniors is experiencing another abnormal year where different COVID-19 restrictions affect their learning systems.
Temple University and the University of Pennsylvania are the leading institutions in Philadelphia to bring back mask mandates. The city recently ended its mask mandate, but that decision did not affect the colleges’ mandates. Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore announced that it would test all undergraduate students twice weekly due to the rising number of COVID-19 infections.
Neeraj Sudhakar, a Columbia graduate student studying financial engineering, told ABC News, “We probably have a 99% vaccination rate, so at this point, I think we just need to move on with the pandemic and treat it as endemic rather than going back to what we were doing the past two years.”