As the state of Illinois lifts indoor mask requirements on Monday, Northwestern University is relaxing some — but not all– of its mask policies.

In a message to the university community, Vice-President Luke Figora says that effective Feb. 28, masking will be optional in administrative spaces, research labs, public events, athletic facilities, residence halls and libraries.

The proof-of-vaccination rule will also end that day for dining halls, gyms and other sites where such documentation had been required.

However, the mask mandate remains at least through March 19 in classrooms.

March 19 is the last day of classes before spring break, and Figora says the mask mandate will stay until then “to ensure continuity through the remaining class sessions and finals.”

Post-spring-break masking rules will be announced as the time approaches.

“We acknowledge that many people hold strong personal feelings about masking,” the administrators say. People can voluntarily wear masks if they wish.

Effective March 4, Northwestern will also remove its color-coded COVID activity level from the COVID website, although case data will still be available.

The most recent positivity rate was 4.35%, for February 11-17.

The university says it has performed approximately 500,000 coronavirus tests since the pandemic began two years ago, and has distributed more than 500,000 at-home test kits.

The administrators say that “Northwestern remains a highly vaccinated and boosted community that has effectively managed the COVID-19 spread on campus.”

However, along with every other agency or organization which is easing COVID policies, NU warns if things get worse again, “we will make adjustments to masking guidance and other mitigation strategies as needed.”

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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