Penn State Relaxes Masking and Testing Protocols
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – With high vaccination rates among students, faculty and staff, as well as low numbers of COVID-19 cases, Penn State relaxed its masking policy. As of March 23, face masks are no longer required in classrooms and indoor spaces.
Masks must still be worn in health care facilities, public transportation and transportation areas like airports and bus stations, as mandated by law.
Beginning March 26, Penn State also paused its required testing for students, faculty and staff. Previously, students who were not fully vaccinated had to be tested weekly.
The university’s decision comes around the same time that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced a new Omicron variant, BA.2.
Rachel Mendick doesn’t have personal concerns about the new variant but understands why others could.
“I’ve already had Coronavirus twice and I’m fully vaccinated, so without masks, I don’t really feel scared, but I do think that if somebody is not vaccinated and they haven’t had Covid already, they could definitely have concerns about the new variant,” Mendick (freshman-supply chain) said.
Mendick believes Penn State’s decision is a good thing, and she thinks a lot of students do not feel concerned by masks any longer being required.
“Obviously, if you still want to wear a mask, you can,” Mendick said.
The university has said that faculty may request that students wear masks during their classes if they wish and that they urge community members to respectfully comply with these requests.
Bianca Villatoro explained that there is a disconnect in some opinions between students and staff.
“I do know that some professors do kind of feel uncomfortable about it, so it makes it difficult for students to try to accommodate those professors,” Villatoro (sophomore-marketing) said.
Penn State will continue to offer tests for those who think they may have been exposed to COVID-19, and they continue to urge those who have symptoms to stay home from classes.
The university strongly encourages students, faculty and staff to keep up with their vaccinations, including booster doses.
Emma Aken is a second-year majoring in journalism. To contact her, email email@example.com.