UF no longer expects or encourages wearing masks on campus.
Now, the university supports and welcomes masks if people choose to wear them.
Masks will still be required in health care centers where patients are treated, like UF Health Shands Hospital.
“We are happy to share that we are updating our mask guidance in light of the latest declines in COVID-19 case numbers and new recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and our UF Health experts,” UF administration wrote in a campus-wide email Wednesday.
UF Health President David Nelson, Faculty Senate Chair David Bloom, Senior Vice President Charlie Lane and five other members of UF administration signed the email.
The decision comes as COVID-19 transmission has declined and most people have received the vaccine, the email said.
Alachua’s COVID-19 positivity rate has been dropping since the middle of January as the omicron variant retreated after a nationwide spike. About 70% of residents are vaccinated.
UF’s policy change is the latest of increasingly relaxed COVID-19 policies.
Last semester, UF discontinued its mask mandate, instead encouraging or recommending masks inside university facilities.
In December, UF Health ended Test, Screen and Protect, the program responsible for the university’s COVID-19 response. It also took down the dashboard that tracked data like positive tests in the UF community.
In January, the administration announced they’d treat COVID-19 like the flu and any other viral diseases.
The email advised students to refer to the Center for Disease Control’s, Florida Department of Health’s and UF Health’s for guidance.
The CDC released updated pandemic guidance in February. The new guidelines advised people in counties with low or medium COVID-19 hospitalizations they no longer needed to wear masks.
Alachua County’s CDC status was updated to medium transmission March 17. Six days later, UF changed the masking policy.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.
Contact Maia Botek @BotekMaia on Twitter and firstname.lastname@example.org.
Maia Botek is a third-year journalism major and Spanish minor covering student government this semester. Maia is from South Florida and enjoys the beach, spending time with her friends and learning about the environment in her free time.