5 things to know about the university’s new mask-optional policy
Beginning March 4, masks will be optional on all IU campuses. Here are five things to know about the new masking guidance:
1. You can mask if you want to.
Masking is now your choice. With COVID-19 cases significantly lower on our campuses, the governor’s emergency order expiring and various county regulations changing, IU is also changing its guidance from masks being required for all to masks being optional.
If you feel most comfortable continuing to wear a mask, please do so. If you’re good going mask-free, go for it.
2. We’re all respectful of everyone’s individual choices.
Throughout the pandemic, IU students, faculty and staff have gone above and beyond expectations in terms of following health and safety guidelines related to the pandemic. As we move into this next phase of living with COVID-19, it is especially important to remember that individuals are now making their own choices about what is best for them in their own circumstances.
Some may decide being mask-free is comfortable for them. Others may need or want to continue masking. Either option is perfectly acceptable and will be respected.
3. If you want to mask, consider wearing the best mask possible.
When you wear the best mask possible, like an N95 or KN95, you’re protecting yourself from airborne particles even if others around you are not masking. This is commonly referred to as one-way masking.
KN95 masks will continue to be distributed on all IU campuses and are available to all students, faculty and staff.
4. Masks are optional in most spaces.
While you can ask someone to mask in your office, classroom or another area, it needs to remain just that: an ask. Masks cannot be required in most spaces, including classrooms or private offices.
The only exceptions to this are on public transportation, in health care settings, in IU child care facilities, and in research spaces where masks were required pre-pandemic or are required by policies from the Office of the Vice President for Research or IU Environmental Health and Safety.
5. Everyone will have different tolerance of risk.
The level of risk an individual is willing to accept will vary from person to person. A healthy student living alone will likely be more tolerant of risk than a parent of a child under 5 or the caregiver of someone who is immunocompromised. The CDC’s dashboard of COVID-19 by county as well as the Indiana Department of Health dashboard are both good resources for objective data for your local community.
Looking for more information on masks on IU campuses? Check out our mask FAQ on iu.edu/covid.
Amanda Roach is a senior communications consultant in the Office of the Vice President for Communications and Marketing.