UMass officials: no plans to reinstate indoor mask mandate

UMass Amherst students weighed in Monday on the university’s mask policies currently in place and if they should change.
Published: Apr. 18, 2022 at 5:00 PM EDT|Updated: Apr. 18, 2022 at 7:04 PM EDT
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AMHERST, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - The city of Philadelphia’s indoor mask mandate is back in place and just over the state line, the University of Connecticut has also reinstated their indoor mask mandate following an uptick in COVID-19 cases. It leads to questions if colleges like UMass Amherst will follow suit.

“Honestly, I believe it should depend on the number of people in an indoor setting, especially for classes that are in big groups say, for example, 200 person lectures, first-year seminars, they should have the mask mandate in place because everyone is in close proximity,” said UMass sophomore Anvita Johry.

UMass Amherst students weighed in Monday on the university’s mask policies currently in place and if they should change.

“The COVID-19 cases have been raising up recently, so that could be a concern, plus a lot of our professors, our teachers, they are always wearing masks when they are teaching, so I think that’s a really big concern for them,” said first-year UMass graduate student Yn Schurity.

Just across the state line, UConn reinstated an indoor mask mandate on Monday and currently has a one percent positivity rate, according to their COVID-19 dashboard data from April 13. Meanwhile, as of April 12, UMass Amherst had a positivity rate of 3.7 percent, compared to their 4.64 percent positivity rate from the week prior.

For a deeper perspective, the current COVID-19 positivity rate in Massachusetts is 3.89 percent as of April 14 and over in Connecticut, it is sitting at 6.51 percent as of April 15.

UMass Amherst students told Western Mass News that they believe their school should follow UConn’s lead to bring back an indoor mask mandate.

“I would like to reinstate the mandate of masks wearing indoors…We have a lot of Chinese students like in our hometown. We have really strict restrictions, you have the isolation and stuff like that, so it feels like it’s pretty necessary if these cases still be going up,” Schurity added.

We reached out to UMass Amherst officials to find out if there are any plans to bring back the indoor mask mandate for the remainder of the semester. They told us in a statement, in part:

“We are maintaining the policies currently in place. We continue to monitor COVID-19 trends in the UMass community through our symptomatic, adaptive and voluntary testing program. The latest COVID-19 testing data for the UMass community for April 6-12 shows 126 new positive cases.”

Students we spoke with told us they believe that the university is taking care of their students despite an uptick in COVID-19 cases.

“UMass is doing a great job with testing and you know, most people on-campus are vaccinated and boosted, so I’m not as concerned about contracting COVID,” Johry noted.