CUNY students no longer required to wear masks

Emanuela Gallo, Editor-in-Chief

CUNY’s temporary mask mandate was lifted on March 7, approximately seven months after it was implemented in August 2021.

“We’ve arrived at this point because of the effort that we all have put forth to protect one another as we looked out for ourselves and our loved ones,” Chancellor Félix Matos Rodríguez said in an email sent on March 4.

The CUNY mandate had required students, faculty, staff and visitors to wear masks inside CUNY buildings.

The policy change is in response to the removal of mask mandates in city and state schools.

“This is a huge step forward for our kids and communities and I am grateful to the students, educators and parents for their dedication to keeping us all safe,” New York State Gov. Kathy Hochul said in her announcement on Feb. 27.

The change also responded to revised guidance by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The COVID-19 community spread level in New York County, where Baruch College resides, is low. The level is determined by the number of occupied hospital beds, hospital admissions and new cases in an area.

“The fight may not be over, but we’re clearly winning the war,” New York City Mayor Eric Adams said on March 4.

People may continue wearing masks and obtain them on campus, according to Matos Rodríguez. He also encouraged unvaccinated members of the CUNY community to still wear masks.

“CUNY will continue to monitor CDC guidelines and consult with our State and City health officials and should the evolving circumstances require a reconsideration of this or any policy, we will make the necessary changes to keep the CUNY community safe,” Matos Rodríguez said.

Matos Rodríguez cited the decline of the CUNY COVID-19 positivity rate. Baruch had zero positive cases out of 705 administered tests during the Feb. 21-27 period.

“I want to thank each of you for the diligence, cooperation and care that have been so very critical to CUNY’s safe progression through the stages of the pandemic,” he said.

CUNY’s quarantine guidelines, vaccine and booster mandate and random testing program are not affected by the mask policy change.

Ayman El-Mohandes, dean of the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health, was recently quoted by The New York Times. He said that “now is as good a time as any” to end mask mandates.

“People should continue to use good sense and assume the pandemic isn’t over,” El-Mohandes said.