Berkeley universities

Some Bay Area colleges are keeping COVID-19 mask mandates

Elementary, middle and high school students will soon be removing their masks, but young adults and their twenties will have to keep them on at some local universities and colleges.

San Jose State and San Francisco State are among several Bay Area colleges that maintain stricter face-covering rules than the state and local counties. These schools will require students to keep their masks on at least for the rest of the spring.

State and local public health officials in the region and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have all issued guidelines stating that they will no longer need masks to protect against COVID-19 in the public places. And California will end its statewide mask mandate for K-12 schools at the stroke of midnight on March 12, Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office announced Monday. Many local school districts with younger children plan to do the same, with San Francisco Unified being the latest to agree to drop the mask mandate in the coming weeks.

Christopher Reid, a freshman at San Jose State who lives on campus, isn’t happy that he and other students still have to wear masks despite Santa Clara County halting its indoor mask requirement.

In a statement asking students to be patient, SJSU Acting President Steve Perez said that while keeping the mask requirement in place for now “may be a disappointment in the short term” for some, “it will help keep our immunocompromised colleagues and friends safe and allow us to move forward as a united community.

Reid claimed the university had not offered a path away from the mandate, nor suggested a date when the masks could come off.

“Given the low number of cases, this should be a student choice,” Reid said.

Other colleges intend to get rid of mask mandates for on-campus students, primarily for those who are vaccinated. In recognition of the decline of the pandemic, UC Berkeley will drop its mask mandate on March 7, but Guy Nicolette, deputy vice chancellor of university health services, noted that not everyone would be happy about it.

Rather than continuing to try to prevent all infections, the university is now focusing on preventing serious illness and death and protecting those most vulnerable, he wrote in a statement to the community.

“Next week will mark two years since we moved classes online at the start of the pandemic and two years of restrictions on our lives,” Nicolette wrote. “We need to accept improving conditions and adjust accordingly, assessing our own risk and risk tolerance as we go.”

An informal survey of local universities and colleges found that those meeting mask requirements said they were in no rush to get rid of them and had the right, according to the state and the counties, to continue to enforce masking until they decide otherwise. .

Santa Clara County

Santa Clara University officials said they will continue to require vaccinated students to wear masks indoors until March 18. But the university will continue to require all students to wear masks in classrooms and at Cowell Health Center “due to their unique environments.”

After March 18, unvaccinated people on campus will be required to wear a mask in all indoor locations. Authorities still strongly recommend that everyone wear them indoors

“Until our community achieves a high level of booster vaccination, we will continue to require masks to minimize transmission on campus,” said Elliot Zanger, a university spokesperson.

Foothill and De Anza colleges will need masks until March 25, the end of the spring semester. Officials there are recommending indoor masking when the spring term begins on April 4, Judy Minor, district chancellor of Foothill-De Anza Community College wrote to the campus community this week.

Alameda County

Cal State East Bay dropped its mask requirements for vaccinated students on March 1. The university still requires masks to be worn in public places, such as commuting and healthcare, said Lori Bachand, the university’s associate vice president. Students coming out of quarantine will be required to wear a mask until the 10th day following a positive test, regardless of their vaccination status.

Ohlone Community College will retain its mask-wearing policy through the end of the spring semester after consulting with a campus safety team comprised of employee groups and other campus stakeholders.

“Our mask mandate has been consistent, and our employees and students are used to wearing a mask indoors; they feel safe,” said Jen Marquez, a spokeswoman for the college. “Switching in the middle of the semester is really not fair to these people.”

Contra Costa County

Schools in the Contra Costa Community College District, including Contra Costa College, Diablo Valley College and Los Medanos College, will continue to enforce indoor masking for the remainder of the spring semester, said Tim Leong, head of education. Contra Costa Community College District Public Information.

San Francisco County

The state of San Francisco will also maintain its indoor mask requirement, with no clear end date in sight.

“Our cautious approach has made ours one of the safest campuses in the country for the past two years. We hope we can revisit our masking requirement in the future,” said Kent Bravo, a university spokesperson.

UC San Francisco will require masks indoors until the end of March, when the university will reverse its mask mandate, said university spokeswoman Kellie Sampson.