Indiana Daily Student

IU Students, faculty react to new mask-optional policy, effective March 4

<p>An Indiana University Residential Programs and Services sign requiring face masks is seen Feb. 24, 2022, in Read Hall. IU will lift mask mandate in classrooms, dining areas and other common areas March 4.</p>

An Indiana University Residential Programs and Services sign requiring face masks is seen Feb. 24, 2022, in Read Hall. IU will lift mask mandate in classrooms, dining areas and other common areas March 4.

Students and faculty expressed mixed reactions after IU announced Friday masks will no longer be required in indoor areas starting March 4.

Residence halls, classrooms, dining areas, common areas and athletic venues are areas where masks will not be required, according to an IU Today article

Masks will still be required in health care settings and research areas, according to the article. 

The Monroe County Community School Corporation also announced on Feb. 22 that it will no longer require masks be worn by students and staff. 

Political science professor William Scheuerman believes the IU administration should have consulted staff and faculty before making a decision on the mask mandate.  

“The decision to do this with masks was made without input from faculty,” Scheuerman said. “There’s a word for that, it's called autocracy.”

The IU administration clarified that professors can encourage students to still wear masks in their classrooms. However, professors cannot make them wear one, Scheuerman said. 

IU Chief Health Officer Dr. Aaron Carroll said in the article that personal choice should drive decisions on whether to mask or not.

“We all want to move beyond COVID, but why not wait a little bit until a few weeks after spring break,” Scheuerman said.  

This decision to not require masks comes a week after the Indiana Department of Health released new guidance for K-12 schools saying it no longer recommends schools report COVID-19 cases. 

“I’m vaccinated and boosted and so are the vast majority of students and staff,” IU freshman Eivin Sandstrom said. “I don’t really object to the decision.” 

Professors cannot require students to wear masks in their classrooms, according to an IU COVID-19 FAQ page. Masks will still be available at the entryway of campus buildings.

“I would wear a mask if the professor asked the class to do it, but I am not sure if they have the authority to make the whole class do it,” Sandstrom said.

At IU-Bloomington, 94.7% of students and 93.9% of faculty and staff are at least partially vaccinated, according to IU’s COVID-19 dashboard. 

From Feb. 10-16 there were 84 positive COVID-19 cases at IU-Bloomington, according to the dashboard. That number increased from 69 positive cases reported from Feb. 3-9. 

“I am probably still going to wear my mask, IU sophomore Maddie Rank said. “I don’t know if it was the best idea.”

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