Most Classroom Settings to Go Mask-Optional Starting April 4

Individual instructors may not set masking policies in classrooms.

By Anu Vashist

In a UChicago Forward update sent Friday, March 18, the University announced that masking will be optional in most classroom settings starting April 4. According to the UChicago Forward email, the University made the decision in consultation with experts from UChicago Medicine.

The decision came nearly a month after the CDC relaxed its indoor masking guidelines and Governor J. B. Pritzker lifted the Illinois indoor mask mandate at the end of February.

Masks are still required in classrooms during the first week of spring quarter to “allow for a transition period as students and others return from travel over spring break,” the email said. Because its spring quarter began March 21, the Law School lifted its classroom mask requirement on Monday, March 28.

As in other campus spaces that have been mask-optional since March 4—which include libraries, residential commons, and dining halls—community members are allowed to wear masks and can ask, but not require, others to wear masks. Instructors are not allowed to implement masking policies in their classroom, but instructors and students can request accommodations related to masking requirements.

Per the email, UChicago Medicine will maintain separate masking policies, to be followed by active clinicians in the Biological Sciences Division (BSD) and in BSD clinical settings related to health care. Student Wellness, COVID-19 testing sites, buses and shuttles operated by the University, the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, and the UChicago Charter School will also maintain their own mask requirements.

The University reported 31 new cases and 29 close contacts between March 11 and March 17. Surveillance testing indicated three positive cases between March 10 and March 16, resulting in a 0.44 percent campus positivity rate, a decrease from the previous week’s 0.65 percent. The City of Chicago’s positivity rate for the week of March 11 was 0.7 percent, the same rate as the previous week.

While the Gleacher Center testing site has closed, voluntary surveillance testing remains available at the Walker Museum.