WEST LIBERTY — Now that the number of COVID-19 cases has gone down locally, many people are probably breathing a sigh of relief — and on some college campuses, students can do just that without having to wear a mask.
West Liberty University is the latest educational institution to remove its mask mandate starting Monday. WLU President W. Franklin Evans announced on Friday that students would no longer be required to wear masks while inside campus.
“Our COVID-19 task force has made this recommendation to cabinet on the basis that it is a reasonable and safe decision to drop the mask requirement due to current CDC guidelines and the state of West Virginia. Of course, those who wish to continue wearing a mask for safety reasons (like me) are encouraged to do so,” Evans said in a press release.
It was noted that there are still some exceptions to the relaxation of this rule. For example, an individual teacher can still ask students to wear masks inside their classroom. And students in health science programs may still be required to wear a mask.
The school will continue to provide N95 masks to students and employees who need them.
Evans said the university decided to end its tenure due to declining numbers of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations nationwide.
According to the Department of Health and Human Services’ Friday COVID-19 dashboard, there were just 795 active cases statewide, down from 21,717 on Jan. 22.
“We are so grateful to everyone who has helped us keep our campus safe and adhere to safety measures during the pandemic,” Evans said.
WLU isn’t the only local college to lift its ban. Wheeling University decided last month to end its mask tenure for the remainder of its spring semester. West Virginia Northern Community College also ended its mask mandate in February.
Meanwhile, Bethany College still has a classroom mask mandate in place, but masks were no longer required in other indoor campus locations as of February 28.
“Our intention is to be 100% mask optional, including classrooms, on April 1,” interim president Jamie Caridi said in a letter to students. “Some University events, as designated by Cabinet, may still require masks during this transition period. These will be determined on a case-by-case basis.
“Thank you for the sacrifice, vigilance and caring that each of you has shown throughout this difficult time. It is through your efforts that we are able to bring about these changes.