U of S, U of R extend mandatory mask use on campus

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Mandatory masking at the University of Saskatchewan has been extended until June 30. (Courtney Markewich/CBC - image credit)
Mandatory masking at the University of Saskatchewan has been extended until June 30. (Courtney Markewich/CBC - image credit)

The University of Saskatchewan and University of Regina are extending mandatory mask use mandates on campus after persistent cases of COVID-19.

On Thursday, the U of S announced it would be requiring masks on campus until June 30. Previously, the mask mandate was set to expire on April 30.

"We've been monitoring COVID activity on campus and beyond for some time," said university vice-president Dr. Darcy Marciniuk, who also chairs the U of S pandemic response and recovery team.

"Indicators of activity in the community with wastewater information as well as health care utilization and self-reported cases have led us to extend the mask mandate to June 30."

According to the university, there were 418 positive COVID-19 cases reported among staff, students and faculty between April 1-13. The university says 375 of those cases involved people who had participated in on campus activities.

Mask use will continue to be mandatory in most indoor spaces including hallways, classrooms and recreation facilities.

As well, the university is mandating all staff and students stay home if they have flu-like symptoms, even if they have received a negative COVID-19 test.

Previously, the university had reported 348 positive COVID-19 cases between March 17-31.

The university said it anticipated that health and safety mandates would continue to lessen over the summer months.

In-person classes resumed at the university on Feb. 7. At the start of the winter semester, all staff, students and faculty were required to have two doses of the vaccine.

It said the pandemic response team would continue to monitor the situation and continue to make recommendations to the university on COVID-19 safety.

"We anticipate that COVID activity will be falling over the next few weeks and into later spring and summer," said Marciniuk.

"It's possible that the mask mandate may be removed following June or potentially even sooner if COVID activity really falls on campus and in the community. We're going to be watching it closely."

Marciniuk also asked that everyone at the university strongly consider receiving their COVID-19 booster shot.

The University of Regina has also decided to extend its masking requirements for classrooms, lab and studio spaces and the university library. Masks will be required in those spaces until May 31.

However, masks will not be required in other indoor spaces starting May 1. Mask use will still be encouraged and welcomed.