New DePaul Guidance Keeps Masks in Classrooms but ...

New DePaul Guidance Keeps Masks in Classrooms but Lifts Requirements on Campus

Plus Housing loosens its visitor policy as state city mask mandates end.

On February 25, DePaul released its updated mask policy as the state and city lifted mask mandates last Monday. 

Beginning February 28, masks are now only required in DePaul classrooms and labs until the end of Winter Quarter. Outside these spaces, masks will be recommended, but not required. 

However, in a March 3 Newsline statement, the University Marketing and Communications team said, “DePaul will work to maintain a mask-friendly campus.” 

Additionally, DePaul will no longer require visitors to show proof of vaccination in dining areas, athletic events and at The Ray in accordance with Chicago’s vaccine mandate. All students, faculty and staff were still required to get a booster shot by March 1, per a January 13 announcement. 

The university will be announcing its indoor mask requirements for Spring Quarter in the coming weeks. 

Updated Housing Visitor and Mask Policies

On February 28, DePaul also updated its visitor policy for residence halls. Residents are now allowed up to two student visitors or two parent/guardian visitors (with proof of vaccination). Masks are not required in residence halls but are still recommended. 

DePaul’s updated visitor policy will continue at least through the first week of the Spring Quarter. 

An email sent to housing residents on February 28 predicts a return to the normal visitor policy sometime after Spring Break. “We will likely return to our normal visitor policy shortly after Spring Break, which would allow outside guests with a valid form of government-issued identification.” 

The email from DePaul Housing sent to on-campus residents about the updated visitor policy. Courtesy of Mariah Hernandez, 14 East.

The next revision to the visitor policy will be expected on April 4. 

DePaul Students Respond to New Guidance

Recent communication from the university highlighted a “Take Care DePaul” initiative to address new masking guidance, particularly for those who are immunocompromised or live in households with young children.

Gwenyth True, president of Accessible Futures DePaul, expressed concern that this initiative and the new mask policies will put students living on campus and those with disabilities at greater risk for COVID-19.

“It shows that they [DePaul] understand and get immunocompromised people feel unsafe. But it puts the responsibility of safety on those immunocompromised people.”

For sophomore Mohammad Aun, the updated policy also raises concerns about his own living situation off-campus.

“Something that scares me is that I live with my family and if I get COVID, my whole family gets it, and my dad is the only one working; he’s getting older and weaker,” he said. “I don’t want him to be at risk simply because positive cases are going down.” 

To True, updated masking guidance in DePaul’s community, the city and state remove essential protections for the immunocompromised.

“It’s really great that healthy people … and non-disabled people have the opportunity to be safe with precautions like vaccines. But the reality is for immunocompromised people … the same protection isn’t offered by those methods,” she said. “And so, it’s really premature to move past mask mandates.”

University Masking Policies in Chicago

As of today, other Chicago universities have announced that they will sustain their current indoor mask mandate. Loyola announced Wednesday that masks are still required indoors, and any changes would not go into effect before March 14. 

The University of Illinois at Chicago announced February 17 that their mask mandate would continue, but testing requirements loosened. A negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours prior to an in-person event and pre-approval for essential university travel will no longer be required. 

Like DePaul, the University of Chicago plans to “transition to ‘mask optional’ for much of campus beginning March 4” but retained its policy for masking in “classrooms and other instructional settings.” 

Northwestern announced February 21 that their indoor mask mandate would end on February 28, but masks would be required in instructional settings until March 19, the end of Winter Quarter for most Northwestern Students. After March 19, masks will be optional. 

Universities across the state have elected to forgo their mask mandates concurrent with the state’s decision. The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Illinois State University, Northern Illinois University and Eastern Illinois University have all made announcements. Masks will still be required for in-person instructional settings, health centers, some research facilities and in any other contract-mandated or federal-mandated areas. 

Another End to Mask Mandates Across the State

In early February, Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced a plan to end the Illinois mask and vaccine card mandates by February 28. The lifting of these mandates will only continue in accordance with a decline in COVID-19 cases.  

The last time Illinois partially removed its mask mandate was May 17, 2021, exempting fully vaccinated individuals in the state. Previously, the mandate was fully lifted June 11, 2021, until last August.

Following suit with Pritzker’s decision, Mayor Lori Lightfoot ended the Chicago mask mandate and vaccine card requirement on Monday. Proof of vaccine status was previously required in dining locations like restaurants and bars, as well as concerts and other event venues. 

Yesterday, Chicago Public Schools’ CEO Pedro Martinez expressed plans to drop school mask requirements “in the near future” following a ruling from downstate Illinois Judge Raylene Grischow that pushed for a sudden halt in public-school mask requirements. 

However, masks will still be required in Chicago at select locations like Chicago Public Schools, public transportation and healthcare facilities. The mask mandate could return in the event that a significant new variant occurs or if another change arises. Currently, Chicago’s COVID-19 positivity rate is at 1.0 percent with an average of 196 reported cases per day, according to Chicago’s COVID-19 Dashboard

Mandates Across the Country 

California, Connecticut, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington and Washington D.C. have all recently dropped or announced plans to drop their mask mandates within the next month. California will continue to require that all unvaccinated individuals wear a mask. Hawaii will soon be the only state to have an indoor mask mandate after Washington’s mandate ends on March 21. 

All other states do not have a statewide mask mandate, though specific cities and counties across the country may still have mandates. 

Recently updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now recommends masking policies be determined by “COVID-19 Community Levels,” or the potential risk of infection based on data like Covid-19 hospitalizations, hospital capacity and new Covid-19 cases.  

Masks are still available on campus at these locations. 

​​Loop campus:

CDM Center, 243 S. Wabash Ave., Public Safety desk in the lobby

Daley Building, 14 E. Jackson Blvd., Public Safety desk in the lobby

Daley Building, State Street entrance, Public Safety desk in the lobby

Lewis Center, 25 E. Jackson Blvd., Public Safety desk in the lobby

DePaul Center, 1 E. Jackson Blvd., Public Safety desk in the lobby

Lincoln Park campus:

Holtschneider Performance Center, 2330 N. Halsted St., Public Safety desk in the lobby

Schmitt Academic Center, 2320 N. Kenmore Ave., Parking Services Office in Room 177

2400 N. Sheffield Building in the lobby

Student Center, 2250 N. Sheffield Ave., lobby


Header image by Bridget Killian