Weeks following Gov. Kathy Hochul’s (D-NY) decision to end state mask requirements in New York State schools by March 2, in a Friday afternoon email to the University community, University officials announced that beginning Monday, March 14, face mask requirements will be eased for a majority of on-campus locations.
Other universities like Ithaca College have already removed indoor mask mandates, and this decision comes days after New York City Mayor Eric Adams’ decision on March 7 to end mask mandates in New York City public schools.
The email from Provost Michael Kotlikoff, Vice President of Student and Campus Life Ryan Lombardi and Vice President and Chief Human Resource Officer Mary Opperman cited new masking guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and New York City Health departments.
Although most campus spaces will no longer enforce a masking requirement, high-quality masks are required in teaching settings like classroom and laboratories, healthcare centers and COVID-19 testing centers, buses and Cornell-owned vehicles used for multi-occupancy travel. The College of Veterinary medicine will provide future masking guidelines for diagnostic and clinical facilities.
According to the announcement, students may continue wearing masks should they want to, and they should not be made to feel uncomfortable for doing so.
“Individuals who are concerned about the risk of infection are encouraged to continue to wear a mask, and we ask that all members of our community support and respect one another’s masking choices,” wrote the administrators in the announcement.
The University noted that the presence of the virus remains a concern and scientific modeling predicts that the cases will rise modestly. It will continue to monitor cases to ensure adequate isolation space for infected individuals.
As of March 9, according to Cornell’s COVID-19 tracking dashboard, there have been 58 new positive cases and 132 active cases across student and employee populations with active COVID rates of 0.5 percent among students and 0.1 percent among employees.