Pitt to go mask optional next Monday


Kaycee Orwig | Senior Staff Photographer

A Pitt student wears a mask.

By Betul Tuncer, Assistant News Editor

Pitt announced Monday that masks will become optional indoors starting next Monday, March 28.

The policy shift came after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recent changes to mask guidance, which no longer requires masks in communities with low or medium levels of COVID-19.

With the CDC designating Pitt’s campuses as low or medium risk areas, the University’s Healthcare Advisory Group updated its own masking guidelines to be in line with the CDC. Pitt said it will continue to follow CDC guidance when making decisions related to COVID-19 safety measures, and could revisit the masking changes if community COVID-19 conditions change.

Though masks will become optional inside Pitt buildings, masks will remain required on all University-operated shuttles, in line with CDC guidance for public transportation. The University will also continue to adhere to mask guidance in all health care settings, including spaces shared with UPMC and other designated clinical settings.

The University said in its announcement that community members are welcome to wear face coverings if they so choose, and asked that everyone respect individual decisions regarding masks.

Pitt will continue to provide face masks at all concierge stations throughout campus. All other University virus mitigation requirements will remain in place, including the weekly COVID-19 testing program for unvaccinated individuals, restricted building access and guest registration.

Harshitha Ramanan, the Student Government Board president, said the change is a “very natural next move” in line with CDC recommendations.

“Students should continue wearing masks when necessary but also whenever they feel comfortable doing so,” Ramanan said.

Robin Kear, the Faculty Assembly president, said like many decisions during the pandemic, this was one “in the spirit of shared governance, with Senate input.”

“Masks are optional; you can still wear a mask to protect yourself. Our current overall vaccination rate is 96% which also protects us,” Kear said. “This will be another transition, but we are hopeful this transition will benefit the classroom.”