College to lift mask requirement in classrooms by next week if COVID-19 levels remain ‘low’

By Olivia Cohen, Editor-in-Chief

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By next Monday, Columbia’s COVID-19 levels are expected to hit the “low” threshold, which will give students, faculty and staff the option to remove their masks in the classroom.

In an email sent to the Columbia community, the college said it would send a confirmation of the pending change no later than this Friday. 

Until Feb. 20, masking will continue to be required in classrooms, except where there is a “provost-approved” exemption. 

Currently, Columbia is mask-optional in all non-classroom settings.

This would be the first time since the pandemic started in 2020 that students and faculty could be in a classroom without a mask. 

The Feb. 13 email from the college comes after the Center for Disease Control lowered the COVID-19 risk level for Chicago and Cook County to “low” on Jan. 25, a trend that would need to continue through this week in order for the masks requirement to be lifted.

“The college requests that members of the Columbia community continue to respect the masking preferences of those around them and bear in mind that individuals may bring different health profiles and life contexts to COVID conversations and precautions,” according to the email.

As a general precaution, the college advised community members to consider masking during close-contact activities or during prolonged contact with others, but it will no longer be a requirement. 

The college will continue to offer vaccinations and boosters at the 600 S. Michigan Ave. building. Students and employees can make an appointment by calling 800-993-8244. Employees can also make appointments through the CareATC patient portal

Full COVID-19 precautions can be found here