Colleges Will Enforce Fewer COVID-19 Protocols This Fall: Report

Mask mandates, quarantines, and travel restrictions are being lifted as students return to campus.
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  • Colleges and universities across the board have dropped policies previously meant to curb the spread of the virus.
  • This comes after the CDC recently rolled back suggested COVID-19 mitigation measures.
  • The majority of institutions still provide vaccinations for students, faculty, and staff.

U.S. colleges and universities seem to be falling in line with national trends as institutions roll back their COVID-19 safety measures.

Students will walk into a very different campus experience this fall semester compared to fall 2021, as the percentage of institutions implementing COVID-19 prevention protocols decreased across the board. A snapshot survey of 559 institutions from the International Educational Exchange (IIE) found that only a quarter of schools plan to require indoor masking this semester, compared to over three quarters in fall 2021.

Similarly, fewer colleges and universities will provide quarantine spaces for students who test positive for the virus. Less than half will conduct regular symptom monitoring, according to the IIE survey.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently amended its COVID-19 guidance. Notably, the CDC no longer recommends that those exposed to the virus quarantine but instead suggests these people wear a high-quality mask for 10 days and get tested on day five.

Colleges and universities in the U.S. have also amended their policies in recent weeks.

For example, the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) dropped its indoor mask mandate this week. The Southern University System in Louisiana reversed its planned indoor mask requirement just a day after announcing the mandate, according to a local ABC affiliate.

“Upon further review of COVID-19 vaccination rates and other mitigation efforts, the Southern University System will not make masks mandatory on its campuses,” the system said.

Other schools, like public colleges and universities in Illinois, have been forced to change their own COVID-19 mitigation policies due to state actions. Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said in July he would not reissue the state’s vaccine mandate for college students and staff.

Still, other systems have recently strengthened their protocols. The University of Hawai’i (UH) system students will start the fall 2022 semester with an indoor mask mandate.