Weber State University dropping mask requirement, ramping up vaccine campaign

Northern Utah News

OGDEN, Utah (ABC4) – After the CDC’s announcement that fully vaccinated people could begin to go maskless, another Utah university will be dropping its face covering requirement. It’s Weber State University, and the change goes into effect Wednesday.

“I didn’t even know about the mask mandate (change) until today, like an hour ago,” WSU student Brooklyn Otto tells ABC4. “So, that’s exciting. As long as people are vaccinated, I don’t think it’s a big problem.”

The university asks those who are not yet vaccinated to continue wearing a face covering on campus.

“I got goosebumps on my run yesterday thinking about, like, ‘Wow, I mean it has been a year but it kind of went by quickly,’” says WSU student Ashleigh Young. “I just really hope it goes back to a new normal.”

This decision comes after following strict COVID-19 protocol for the last year. Students and staff have all been required to wear face coverings on campus, and many classes have been virtual. That is now slowly starting to change.

“We’ve been following all state, local, and CDC guidelines from the beginning,” explains WSU Director of Public Safety Dane LeBlanc. “We know that we’ve got a high, high number of our faculty and staff vaccinated, and so we’re just continuing to follow the CDC guidelines and the state and local guidelines.”

The school has had an aggressive vaccine campaign on campus. Now that masks are coming off, that campaign will continue at full speed.

One way the school makes sure students stay in the loop is by sending out “code purple” messages. This is an emergency system the university uses to get texts out to all students. Think of it like an amber alert. Right now, the school uses this system to notify all students of upcoming vaccine clinics.

LeBlanc tells ABC4 the vaccine campaign has an end goal, “and that’s heard immunity; around that 70% to 80% of our population,” He continues, “Of course, I would like to see more people vaccinated because the more people vaccinated, the safer it is for everyone.”

The new change to the mask requirement will be done on an honor system. Utah universities cannot require students be vaccinated to attend class. However, LeBlanc says the school is confident the majority of students will follow the new guidelines. He explains that a survey conducted weeks ago showed that 75% of the student body planned on getting vaccinated.

However, not everyone is as confident that all students will keep to the honor code. “I feel like people are going to be people,” says Young. “Some probably will just not wear it.”

While some students may not wear a face covering even if they haven’t recieved a vaccine, others will continue wearing a mask even though they are already vaccinated. “For me, my mom, she’s been fighting cancer,” Otto tellsABC4. “And so, we wear masks — like in my family — out of respect for her.”

There is a vaccine clinic for WSU staff and students Tuesday from 4 p.m. through 8 p.m. at the Dee Events Center. There will be another clinic at the same time on May 25. Walk-ins are welcome.

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