American, Georgetown universities drop mask requirements

As COVID-19 cases continue to fall in the region, two D.C. universities will make masks optional starting next week.

As COVID-19 cases continue to fall in the region, two D.C. universities will make masks optional starting next week.

American University said in a statement that masks will be optional in most places on campus starting Monday, such as classrooms, labs, office spaces, residence halls, dining facilities, event spaces, libraries and fitness centers.

Masks will still be required on shuttle buses and campus medical facilities, the university said.

The Bender Arena and performing arts spaces will also reopen at full capacity, with masks optional.

University President Sylvia Burwell said in the statement that the return to campus after spring break constituted “a less impactful period of the COVID-19 pandemic and provides opportunities to adjust our health and safety protocols in a measured, phased approach.”

The delay until Monday is in order to account for any new cases of COVID-19 that pop up after spring break travel.

At Georgetown, masks will also become optional Monday assuming the test positivity rate remains low, with the same exceptions for health care facilities and transit services. Those who are released from isolation still have a wear a mask for 10 days, and those with accommodation plans that call for enhanced public health measures still have to wear masks.

Both institutions said their vaccination requirements remain in effect, and both included warnings against bullying people who continue to wear masks.

“Please respect the decisions and privacy of fellow community members by not asking why someone is wearing a mask,” Georgetown officials said in the statement. “Please help all members of our community feel welcome and safe, and consider putting on a mask when interacting with someone who is wearing a mask. Do not pressure someone to put on or take off a mask.”

“Listening and respect are critical,” said American’s Burwell. “If a member of our community asks others to wear a mask when they are in close contact with one another, including faculty in our classrooms and staff in our offices, please treat such requests with respect and give them full consideration.”

More Coronavirus News

Looking for more information? D.C., Maryland and Virginia are each releasing more data every day. Visit their official sites here: Virginia | Maryland | D.C.

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