Mask requirement returns for University of Delaware to start fall semester

Students will be required to wear masks on campus for the first two weeks of the fall semester to stem an expected spike in COVID cases.

University of Delaware's campus in Newark

University of Delaware's campus in Newark. (University of Delaware)

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The University of Delaware has implemented a two-week mask requirement for the fall semester as students get ready to return to the classroom. The temporary mask mandate will run from Aug. 30 until Sept. 9.

After two and a half years of the pandemic, school officials say they’ve seen trends where COVID cases tend to spike at the start of each semester as the campus population swells with returning students.

“I do think that they’re doing it because there’s a lot of people who are moving back in,” said rising UD junior Brooke Van Weele. “I feel like the first two weeks, because everyone’s moving into their dorms officially or any type of housing that they have coming from all across the country, they’re just trying to make it a little bit safer in their eyes.”

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Face masks are a requirement for all professors, staff, and students in all instructional settings, research labs, and on all UD transportation. Anyone teaching a class or giving a presentation is allowed to remove their mask as long as they stand six feet away from others.

Some students, like Van Weele, don’t want to wear masks again and don’t feel that they’re very effective.

“Considering I feel like a lot of us already did get COVID at some point, even with wearing masks, I don’t know if it’s necessarily going to be too effective,” she says. “But I think they’re trying their best to keep students safer.”

Beyond requiring masks, UD students also must be up to date on their vaccinations. Students are encouraged to get tested for COVID 24 hours before arriving on campus.

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Previously, students who had an exemption for the vaccine had to test weekly. That requirement has been eliminated. Testing is still available for students experiencing COVID symptoms. Students are still expected to isolate if they test positive for the virus.

Other students agree that the mask requirement is overall a positive thing. Rising junior Julianna Desouza said the two-week requirement doesn’t go far enough.

“My overview on it is, it could be effective if it was for a little bit longer, and I think it would have a better effect on students’ health if it was for maybe like a month,” Desouza said. “Two weeks isn’t enough to stop the spread if that’s what they want to do.”

The outbreak of monkeypox is another issue that worries students on the Newark campus. Students want the university to find solutions to stop the spread of this disease, including making hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes readily available.

“The University has created a dedicated website for Monkeypox information and resources,” said vice president for student life Jose-Luis Riera in a statement. The school is working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Delaware Division of Public Health to educate the campus community and plan for monkeypox.

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