Duquesne Considering Changes to Mask Policy

The following message was shared with Duquesne students and employees today.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has updated its guidance on masking related to COVID-19. The new guidance is based on community transmission levels, using three tiers (high, medium and low) as indicators for when masking is necessary.  

As a result, Duquesne's Health and Safety Committee is considering recommending new mask rules to begin one week after return from spring break. The committee continues to seek input from the University community, including faculty, students and staff. There has been specific outreach on this issue with leadership of Student Government and Staff Advisory Council, as well as with faculty leadership and the full faculty body. Individuals are encouraged to share input with their respective group.

While those discussions will shape the final details of the policy recommendations, it is likely that the University will no longer require masks to be worn indoors, starting Monday, March 21, 2022, assuming Allegheny County's low transmission rate remains low. The Health and Safety Committee will continue to follow county and campus data closely. If transmission rates or other risk factors increase, the University may reinstate preventive measures.  

The proposed date, March 21, 2022, is one week following the return of students from spring break. The University encourages individuals-regardless of symptom status-to take a COVID test during the week of March 14. Testing will be widely available on campus during that time in order to establish a baseline and assess the current transmission rate before implementing any changes to our current requirements.   

Because of different class offerings and sizes, some faculty have suggested that professors and other instructors should be permitted to require masks in classes, at their discretion. They suggest that faculty will make decisions based on safety, class needs for interaction, the physical space and other variables. The committee is considering this potential scenario.  

If the University moves forward with making indoor mask use optional, it is important to respect each individual's decision whether to wear a mask. Individuals, regardless of their vaccination status, may choose to wear a mask for many reasons: they may spend time with young unvaccinated children; they may live with an immunocompromised person; they may spend time with a person who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons; or they may want an extra layer of protection, among other reasons.    

Masks will remain available in offices and in Health Services for individuals who need them. Unvaccinated and vulnerable individuals are strongly encouraged to continue to wear masks. Individuals exhibiting symptoms should not go to class or to in-person work, should get tested and should wear a mask until results are known.  

Thank you for your continued efforts to keep one another safe while pursuing our educational mission and service to the broader community.

Duquesne University

Founded in 1878, Duquesne is consistently ranked among the nation's top Catholic universities for its award-winning faculty and horizon-expanding education. A campus of nearly 8,500 graduate and undergraduate students, Duquesne prepares students by having them work alongside faculty to discover and reach their goals. The University’s academic programs, community service, and commitment to equity and opportunity in the Pittsburgh region have earned national acclaim.

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