Indoor face covering policies under review

Washington State University is evaluating public health conditions within the communities where its campuses and other facilities are located as it considers the future of indoor face covering requirements.

Last week, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced the next phase of the state’s pandemic response, which will reduce the number of places where face coverings are required. Relaxed masking requirements in the state are scheduled to go into effect March 21.

WSU is considering its plans in partnership with public universities across the state. Leaders from the public institutions statewide will meet to discuss face covering policies in the coming weeks.

“In collaboration with our fellow public universities, we will discuss how to proceed into the next phase of the pandemic,” WSU President Kirk Schulz said. “As has been the case since the very beginning of the pandemic, any action we take will be made in consultation with public health experts with a keen eye toward data from our communities across the state.”

The requirement for face coverings at large outdoor events statewide and on WSU property was lifted Feb. 18. WSU continues to require all individuals, regardless of vaccination status, to wear well-fitted face coverings while inside university facilities.  KN95, KF94 or equivalent masks are preferred.

Beginning March 21, Washington will no longer require face coverings in K-12 schools, childcare facilities, houses of worship, restaurants, recreation centers, and businesses. Face coverings will still be required inside medical facilities, long-term care centers, public transport and corrections facilities. Private businesses and local governments have the ability to require face coverings for employees, customers or residents after March 21 under the governor’s plan.

Inslee cited declining hospitalization rates, improving vaccination rates and broad access to masks and COVID-19 tests as critical factors in the decision to move to a less restrictive phase of the COVID-19 response.

More information about WSU’s response to the global pandemic can be found at the university’s COVID-19 website.

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