Pitt goes mask optional in public areas


Josalyn McMillan, Editor-in-Chief

On Mar. 21, the University of Pittsburgh sent an email to informing students and faculty that the requirement that all everyone in campus facilities wear masks in public areas – a requirement since we returned to the classroom – would no longer be effective Mar. 28.

The university’s Healthcare Advisory Group updated the mask guidelines to adhere to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recent changes to mask guidance.

CDC guidance is based on community COVID-19 levels to determine when indoor masking is required.

COVID-19 Community Levels are a method to help communities decide what prevention steps to take based on the latest data.

Levels can be low, medium, or high and are determined by the amount of hospital beds being used, hospital admissions, and the total number of new COVID-19 cases in an area.

All university campuses are currently either in the low or medium level. When the level is low, the advisory group recommends individuals to wear a mask based on personal preference.

Pitt maintains that masks will continue to be required on university-operated shuttles. The university will also continue to provide face coverings, including N95 masks, at concierge stations throughout the campuses.

In Cambria County, Pennsylvania, where Pitt-Johnstown is located, the community level is low.

Earlier this month, Pitt-Johnstown Vice President for Student Affairs, Christian Stumpf, said that “All of our students are either fully vaccinated or have an approved exemption to the vaccine requirement.” Those students with exemptions are required to be tested every week per university guidelines.

“We didn’t have any students who we had to disenroll because of requirements,” Stumpf said. “The initial process was a little challenging, making sure everyone understood what had to be done, but it worked out very well.”

The university’s masking guidelines are subject to change, but Stumpf feels positive about the status of campus cases. “The numbers are trending down right now, and we’re very happy about that.