University's fall mask mandate exceeds CDC guidance

American University recently announced its mask policy to require students to wear masks in classrooms for the fall 2022 semester.

Faculty can remove masks if they are six feet away from students, while students must keep mask on in classrooms in most circumstances.

American University (AU) in Washington D.C. recently announced its mask policy to require students to wear masks in classrooms for the fall 2022 semester. The policy goes beyond CDC guidance and also gives leeway to the university’s faculty.

According to the August 11 announcement, if faculty are at least six feet away from the students, they may remove their masks during a lecture. 

However, students are required to keep their masks on, unless they are “drinking” or in “performing arts/language classes” when “specific instructional needs” are warranted, drawing a clear double standard between AU’s faculty and its students. 

According to DC Health guidelines, “[m]ost people no longer need to wear masks in indoor public settings or outdoors unless COVID19 community levels are HIGH.” 

DC Health categorizes COVID-19 community levels as low, medium, or high based on the hospitalization rates.

But AU is implementing its mask mandate for students during a time when the COVID-19 community level in Washington D.C. is currently low

[RELATED: Students face mask mandates this fall]

AU has a long history of implementing masking policies that stretch CDC guidance.

In July 2021, for example, Fanta Aw, Vice President of Undergraduate Enrollment, Campus Life & Inclusive Excellence at AU, released a statement requiring “anyone present in AU buildings or campus facilities [to] wear masks while indoors.” 

At that time, however, Covid rates in D.C. were at historic lows since the onset of the pandemic.

American University both neglects to take DC’s low rating into account when requiring masks to be worn indoors this Fall and sets a tone that faculty and students will abide by different standards.

Campus Reform contacted Fanta Aw and American University for comment. This article will be updated accordingly.

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