University of Delaware reinstates mask mandate just days before graduation

COVID cases on campus are up nearly 60% in the past month. As a result, the semester will end with students and staff required to mask up.

University of Delaware's campus in Newark

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

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University of Delaware students and staff are once again required to wear masks when indoors for all UD-sponsored events, on or off campus.The new rule went into effect Tuesday morning.

School officials say the end of the year is a time for lots of big gatherings across campus, including graduation ceremonies. “It’s important that we all take every step possible to safeguard the health of ourselves and those around us,” UD officials said in a statement. President Biden will deliver the University of Delaware commencement address this Saturday.

The change comes as cases have been slowly climbing on campus, mirroring the rise in Delaware and the region.

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As of April 24, the campus was averaging 105 COVID cases per week. By May 24, that weekly average was up to 166, a nearly 60% increase. The case numbers are far below the pandemic peak of 1,048 cases per week in early January 2022. The weekly average has been slowly creeping up since hitting a low of 11 cases in late March.

The state is averaging 575 new cases as of Sunday, May 22. Last week, Delaware Gov. John Carney tested positive for the virus. He reportedly suffered only minor symptoms and was forced to cancel several public appearances.

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School officials say they will continue to monitor the spread of the disease, which should dramatically drop as thousands of students leave campus for summer break. The face mask requirements will remain in effect until further notice.

UD’s return to masking follows a similar move for Philadelphia schools, which now requires masks to be worn at school and on school transportation as of this Monday.

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