BreakingCOVID-19News

BREAKING: Boise State lifts campus mask mandate, excluding “instructional spaces”

Photo by Corissa Campbell

Masks will be optional in all university administrative, athletic, event and communal spaces effective March 7. This includes Albertsons Library, the Rec Center, the Student Union Building (SUB), resident halls and other campus buildings.

However, masks will still be required in instructional spaces, research labs, University Health and Counseling Services, the COVID Testing Center, Vaccine Clinic and isolation hall, the Children’s center, any area where food is prepared and on campus public transportation. 

This means students will still be required to wear masks during classes, teaching labs and any other spaces where instruction takes place. 

Additionally, there may be certain indoor events or programs that still require masking based on event sponsor requirements.

If conditions continue to improve after March 7, university officials expect to lift the mask requirement in instructional spaces before the end of March.

In an email to faculty and staff on Feb. 28, vice president for University Affairs and chief of staff Alicia Estey said:

“I am happy to share that, thanks to your diligence and care for others, our campus COVID positivity rate and case counts have been steadily declining since mid-January. Last week, our positivity rate was 0% and only 7 new cases were reported by individuals who tested off-campus. This trend signifies a dramatically reduced presence of COVID within our campus community.”

For those still wanting to mask on campus, the university currently has a large supply of KN95s available for free that can be picked up outside of the Vaccine Clinic, in Human Resources or at the Info Desk in the SUB.

“We recognize that many people hold strong opinions about masking. Those who feel more comfortable wearing a mask in spaces where it is not required should do so, just as those who choose not to when it’s not required should do the same. We expect all members of our campus community to be respectful of others’ choices,” Estey wrote.

At the beginning of this semester, Boise State reached an all-time weekly high for COVID cases and positivity rate amidst the omicron surge. Shortly after, campus COVID numbers set a new highest all-time record with a reported 371 new cases in one week.

On Jan. 31, Governor Little activated the Idaho National Guard in response to climbing COVID numbers across the state. The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare (IDHW) also activated crisis standards of care in certain health districts.

Since then, Boise State has seen a steady decline in case numbers, seeing roughly 270 cases for the full month of February, according to the university’s COVID Tracking Dashboard.

Ada County as a whole has seen a similar pattern and subsequent decrease, reaching a weekly high of 5,803 cases in mid-January to 324 cases for the week of Feb. 20. 

However, on Friday, Feb. 25, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated their prevention guidelines based on community case levels. 

Ada County is currently rated in the “high” category, with the following recommendations:

  • Wear a mask indoors in public
  • Stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccines
  • Get tested if you have symptoms
  • Additional precautions may be needed for people at high risk for severe illness

Boise State’s Public Health will continue to provide testing, contact tracing and actively monitor other COVID indicators, like wastewater viral loads, “in hopes of further rolling back the mask requirement as quickly as conditions allow,” according to Estey.

Any campus community members that are concerned about the rollback should contact Human Resources (employees) or Public Health (students).
Public Health will be updating Boise State’s COVID Response site in the coming weeks to reflect the changing conditions. Questions or concerns related to the university’s COVID response can be directed to publichealth@boisestate.edu.

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