As of Saturday, Feb 26, Western Carolina University has lifted its mask mandate, according to a campus-wide email sent out Friday afternoon.
Masks will still be required on the Cat Tran and in University Health Services in Madison Hall and the Bird Building; they are no longer required anywhere else. The email says people who are not fully vaccinated should continue wearing masks when close to others.
“Each person should decide at their own pace what is best for their health and personal risk. Those who feel more comfortable or safe while wearing a face-covering are encouraged to continue doing so at their discretion,’ the email says. ‘All members of the campus community are reminded to be patient and show respect for the personal decision each person makes with respect to face coverings.”
The announcement explained the reasoning for the change being the declining COVID-19 metrics on campus. According to the university dashboard, the reported weekly testing positivity rate is only 4.1%, down from a 23.8% high on Jan. 21, with 14 students and five employees testing positive in the past week.
Last week, Jackson County also lifted its mask mandate as Omicron’s surge subsides in Western North Carolina and statewide.
WCU will continue to monitor changing metrics, and if warranted, the university could reinstate mitigation measures at a future date.