Latest UCI school to resume indoor masking on campus, others say they are monitoring the spread of COVID-19 – Redlands Daily Facts

Local universities and colleges are reviewing campus masking requirements amid rising rates of coronavirus transmission — UC Irvine resumed requiring face coverings indoors beginning Monday, July 18.

The new UCI requirements follow a masking order at UCLA that has been in place since late May. Originally a two-and-a-half-week term, UCLA on June 14 extended its indoor face covering requirement indefinitely and continues to recommend weekly testing for COVID-19.

A handful of other schools in the area say they are monitoring the spread of COVID-19, but have no plans yet to reinstate a masking order. Several said they would take a cue from public health officials.

At Cal Sate Long Beach, no changes have been made to the school’s current policies on coronavirus precautions, spokesperson Gregory Woods said, “but we are monitoring if and/or when it may be necessary to modify it”.

The university made mask-wearing optional on most campuses for those fully vaccinated as of March 14. Exceptions are masks required in classrooms, laboratories and offices, regardless of vaccination status, and in close contact wards.

Cal Poly Pomona will continue to follow the requirements of the Los Angeles County Public Health Department, spokeswoman Cynthia A. Peters wrote in an email Monday. If an indoor mask mandate is implemented by county health officials, Peters said the university would follow suit.

Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer recently warned that if transmission rates continue to remain high, a mask mandate could go into effect by July 29.

At least one of Claremont Colleges — Harvey Mudd — also plans to mirror county direction on masking, spokesman Tim Hussey wrote Monday.

In the Inland Empire, the University of Redlands is closely monitoring cases, as well as county and state mandates, spokeswoman Jennifer Dobbs wrote Monday. The university’s COVID task force is expected to make recommendations for the fall term in the coming weeks.

At Riverside, La Sierra University has no plans to reinstate an indoor mask mandate, university spokeswoman Darla Martin Tucker said.

In a new executive directive, UCI Chancellor Howard Gillman said masking rules reinstated by the university “will help mitigate possible exposure and transmission of COVID-19 on property controlled by the UCI”, and would curb the spread of the disease within the school community.

He cited Orange County’s standing in the “high” level of community spread, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s transmission scale, as the reason for the new requirements. The CDC’s ranking is based on “hospital beds used, hospital admissions, and the total number of new COVID-19 cases in an area,” according to the agency.

Los Angeles County also recently entered the CDC’s high transmission category, while Riverside County and San Bernardino County were each listed by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday as having a “medium” level of community transmission.

The UCI order applies to everyone on campus and employees working off-site. Anyone inside school buildings, on public transport or in a UCI vehicle with another person is required to mask up with a face covering that is at least two layers and completely covers the nose and mouth.

Students in their dorms or those in “an enclosed private space,” such as an office, are permitted to remove their masks, the executive order says.

Journalists David Downey, Christina Merino and Brian Whitehead contributed to this story.

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