SPOKANE COUNTY, Wash. — After Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced last week that the state’s indoor mask mandate will be lifted on Saturday, March 12, nine days earlier than his previous recommendation, universities in Spokane, Cheney, Pullman, and Idaho announced their new mask policies.
Eastern Washington University (EWU)
EWU announced Wednesday the university will make masks optional on its campuses starting Saturday, March 12, 2022.
According to the EWU masking guidelines website, the decision was made based on data from local and state health agencies and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). EWU students, staff, and faculty also contributed to favor the March 12 date, according to a university survey.
The lifting of the mask mandate at EWU will include classrooms, academic and business buildings, and residence halls on the Cheney campus and the Catalyst building in Spokane.
However, on the Spokane campus that the EWU shared with WSU, the university will follow WSU mask mandate policies and masks will still be required on public transportation (STA) and in clinical and some other specialized settings, according to the EWU website.
Washington State University (WSU)
WSU announced last week that the campus would be adopting new face-covering guidance starting on March 12.
WSU will no longer require masks in a majority of its campus buildings starting March 12, which includes classrooms, residence halls, recreation centers and dining halls. However, face coverings will still be required on public transit and inside medical facilities, according to WSU.
"After examining the available data and consulting with public health experts, we feel confident that we can begin to ease our pandemic-related restrictions,” WSU President Kirk Schulz said on his official Twitter account.
According to the WSU Insider, as of March 1, WSU is no longer requiring proof of vaccination for those attending events on its campuses as compliance with the state level restrictions lifted.
Gonzaga University (GU)
While WSU would ease its mask guidelines early, Gonzaga University President Thayne McCulloh won't lift GU's mask mandate until March 25.
GU will no longer require masks to be worn in indoor settings after March 25, according to a statement from the Office of the President of GU's Parent and Family Experience portal.
"Indoor use of masks will continue to be required at Gonzaga University through Friday, March 25th, 2022. We believe this will help reduce the rate of viral transmission following Spring Break travel," the GU office of the president portal said.
McCulloh posted on his official Twitter account that the decision was made after data examination, consultation with the Spokane Regional Health District (SRHD) and a considerable dialogue with faculty, staff and students.
If a department identifies the need to have masks required after March 26, the divisional leader is expected to approve the protocol for mask-wearing in their respective office areas, the GU Parent and Family Experience portal said.
University of Idaho (UI)
Despite WSU, EWU and GU lifting their mask mandate through the month, UI dropped its mask mandate on campus on Tuesday, March 1 following new CDC guidance recommendations.
According to the UI official website, masks are no longer required in labs, meeting rooms, hallways or other areas. Instructors can still require masks in their classrooms.
UI also said in a Twitter post that masks are optional and a personal choice in Moscow and Coeur d’Alene.