Cal State East Bay Removes Mask Mandate

Scarlet Schwenk, Managing Editor

In a statement released Friday, Feb. 25, California State University, East Bay announced it would no longer require face masks for vaccinated persons while indoors on the Hayward and Concord campuses, effective March 1. 

As cases around the Bay Area continue to decline after a winter surge amid the Omicron variant, the University announced its move to remove masks on campus falls in line with county and state health guidelines. This shift comes after an announcement made earlier in February to keep the mask mandate as California eased the statewide mandate, declaring the University would re-evaluate the mask mandate at the end of February.

While positivity rates have dramatically dropped in the Bay Area and California, face coverings continue to be a recommended public health practice, and we know that many in our university and broader community choose to wear them even though they are fully vaccinated,” CSUEB’s Office of Risk Management wrote in an email. 

Students not fully vaccinated against COVID-19 are required to wear a face mask at all times while indoors. Regardless of vaccination status, face coverings are still required while on public transportation, healthcare, and ending an isolation period early, before ten days. 

Some students feel torn regarding the quick shift to removing the mandate, though there appears an overall feeling of safety. 

“With the precautions our campus has been taking these past two years; I trust their decision to lift the mask mandate at this time, especially since it aligns with our county’s current health guidelines. Being on campus almost every day these past few weeks, I’ve felt very safe in regards to my health and don’t foresee that changing once the mask mandate is removed,” explained Ashmita Ahluwaila, ASI Director of Wellness. 

The feeling of safety further reinforces the notion of time and temperature, where some settings may provide a greater sense of security depending on the number of people and physical settings.  

“I’m somewhat torn because removing the mask mandate in the Bay Area could be the beginning of the end of [COVID-19], which is a sign of normalcy… Depending on the situation, the space provided, and the number of people [in class], I have some hesitancy with being maskless. This pandemic [isn’t] over,” said Gerald Fermin, a student at CSUEB, adding, “I do trust [the school’s] judgment, and with a little adapting, I’m sure I’ll be comfortable with this sudden change.”  

The shift to removing masks on campus may also leave out the question of safety for disabled and immuno-compromised students. For many, hybrid learning provided safety away from exposure risk levels when attending in-person classes. 

However, the Office of Risk Management further recommends focusing on keeping yourself safe by deciding for your personal health to wear or not to wear a mask. They further asked students and faculty to respect others’ choices to wear one, regardless of vaccination status. 

KN95 masks are available for students and employees in the Student Affairs building in 1600, along with booster clinics and on-campus COVID-19 testing, all free of charge.