Effective immediately, California, Clarion and Edinboro will no longer require the use of masks inside of campus buildings. This masking update from President Dale was sent to the inboxes of Cal U students, staff and faculty on March 2.
Masks will still be required in university health and counseling centers, on-campus COVID-19 testing areas and while riding university and public transit. Students who are involved in educational experiences outside of campus, such as internships, clinical and school placements, should continue to follow their facility’s guidelines similar to how student-athletes will continue to follow the guidelines of their athletic department, PSAC and NCAA.
This decision comes after the most recent CDC announcement stating counties with “low” or “medium “community levels don’t need to require masking. According to the latest CDC data, Venango, Erie and Clarion counties are “low” while Washington county is “medium.”
“Dr. Dale did have conversations on masking guidance with all of the campuses over the last few days and she is aware that the conversations on masking guidance remain intense, but the latest CDC recommendations advise that indoor masking is only necessary in areas experienced higher risk COVID-19 levels,” said Kelly Moran-Repinski, the president’s chief of staff and executive director of university affairs.
Cal U, Edinboro and Clarion’s joint COVID taskforce sent out recommendations two days before the president’s masking update which suggested: “all campus masking guidelines remain in place at this time” as travel is anticipated for some individuals over spring break. The taskforce, which is made up of student and faculty leaders plus staff and administration across the three campuses, held a special meeting on February 28 to discuss the new CDC guidelines.
Tony Mauro, California campus administrator and vice president of development and alumni relations, acts as the lead for the taskforce. He said they met to try and determine and understand the guidelines that came out late Friday afternoon, “so we were trying to determine those and the impacts of what went into them and the new levels and the guidance that they provided.”
“This is a very fast-moving, fluid situation with all of this,” Mauro said. “We had some kind of a conversation subsequently with some members and we’ll meet again on Friday to discuss even more. We’re going to meet every Friday and we review anything that has taken place since the last meeting, or anything that we need to act upon since the last meeting.”
Moran-Repinski said the president talked to Mauro and the leadership on the different campuses as well as considered the CDC guidelines to make an informed decision.
“We’re continuing to monitor the COVID-19 positive cases within the campus community,” she said. “If we see a rise in campuses [cases] occur, or if the CDC moves one of the counties out [of low or medium levels], masks would be reinstated across campus.”
Cal U has reported 21 confirmed cases of COVID-19 for the month of February which is lower than the 60 cases reported in January.
“I think our campus community has really been resilient through this process, and they have adapted to the changing conditions,” said Moran-Repinski. “I think that there’s definitely a lot of conversation around the masks and I would say that majority of the responses that we have received have been positive.”