EAST LANSING — Local and state COVID-19 guidance prompted Michigan State University to lift its masking rules earlier this month, a school official said, but the university is still requiring students to wear masks in class.
While it lifted masking requirements nearly everywhere else on campus, MSU continues to require students and staff wear masks in classrooms, labs and shared research spaces as a continued measured focused on making students and staff feel more comfortable.
“We believe leaving the masking requirements in place at this time allow for extra peace of mind for students and employees and faculty in classes so they can focus: for faculty on teaching and students on learning,” MSU spokesperson Dan Olsen said.
Classrooms and academic labs with multiple people inside were the only exceptions to MSU President Samuel Stanley Jr.’s announcement on March 3, in which he said the campus-wide mask mandate was ending.
MSU also lifted COVID-19 vaccination requirements for people attending most events, but students, staff and faculty must be vaccinated.
The mask mandates were lifted just in time for the last men’s basketball game of the regular season against Maryland on March 6. Conversations continue around COVID-19 processes and prevention measures, but the mask mandate remains in place in academic settings, Olsen said.
More: MSU lifts mask mandate in most indoor settings, including Breslin Center
Olsen said classes face continued rules in part because students are required to attend class for their own academic success and faculty must attend to do their jobs. No one is required to attend games or events at campus venues.
“That’s more of a personal decision,” Olsen said. “We thought that was another important factor.”
Some faculty, like Megan Donahue, a distinguished professor in the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics, support continuing masking requirements for students and staff in educational settings.
“As a faculty member, I can ask students visiting me to mask up. I think that’s good convention to adopt long term,” she said in an email. “Let’s try to keep these airborne diseases from ripping through our campus.”
Lifting the remaining mask mandates is something MSU won’t rule out, Olsen said.
In addition to masks, students, faculty and staff have been required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 unless the university granted a valid exemption.
While the school is lifting the mask mandate, Stanley said, masks remain “strongly recommended” for anyone who is not vaccinated against COVID-19 or who is otherwise medically vulnerable.