Northwestern University will no longer require mask-wearing in classrooms and other instructional spaces when school resumes following spring break on March 29.

In a website message to students and staff, NU Vice-President Luke Figora and two other administrators say that “the health landscape on campus and in surrounding communities continues to improve,” with decreasing numbers of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

Northwestern had previously dropped its mask mandate for offices, public, and athletics events as of Feb. 28.

Figora says “even as Northwestern and the world around us phase out masking requirements,” it’s important to note that “each of us moves at a different speed with changing a practice that has been a part of our lives for the better part of two years.”

The NU administrators say some people may still want to wear masks due to personal medical conditions or to protect vulnerable family members.

“No matter an individual’s choice,” they say, “we are committed to respecting and supporting one another.”

Northwestern still “strongly recommends masking in areas where distancing is not possible,” particularly as students and staff return from spring break travel.

When they do come back, all students will be required to take at least one in-person COVID test during the week of March 27, whether vaccinated or not.

Students and employees with an approved vaccination exemption must be tested twice a week.

As with almost every COVID-related message since the pandemic hit in March, 2020, NU says changes to masking policies are possible if medical conditions change.

Jeff Hirsh joined the Evanston Now reporting team in 2020 after a 40-year award-winning career as a broadcast journalist in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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