Students will no longer be required to wear masks at campus gyms starting Feb. 28 

By Carley Edwards

In light of Governor J.B. Pritzker’s plan to lift the statewide indoor mask mandate on Feb. 28, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is slightly adjusting their COVID-19 guidelines. 

Students will not be required to wear face coverings at non-instructional university facilities, including the Activities and Recreation Center and Campus Recreation Center East starting Feb. 28.  

Sophomore Lindsey Garcia said that she is selfishly happy that masks will no longer be a rule at the gym because she already sees people not wearing their masks properly there. 

“However, I am scared because I hate being sick and having COVID is not fun. It’s going to give us a false sense of normalcy,” said Garcia. 

Photo courtesy of Carley Edwards. Students are wearing face coverings on Feb. 7 at the Campus Recreation Center East as they were still required to at the time.

According to Robin Kaler, the Associate Chancellor for Public Affairs, this face covering policy change includes any spaces that aren’t specifically included in the massmail. 

Although students soon won’t need to wear face coverings at the gym, they will still be required to wear masks at other spaces on campus.

Chancellor Robert Jones said in the mass email today that students will still be required to wear masks for in-person classes, during passing periods, and at healthcare facilities (McKinley Health Center, COVID-19 testing sites). The changes listed above will begin Feb. 28. 

The vaccine and booster requirement for students will continue to remain in effect. 

Although indoor mask requirements are changing statewide, federal mandates will not be affected. 

“Mask requirements will continue where federally mandated, such as on public transit and in high-risk settings including healthcare facilities and congregate care,” according to a press release by the Illinois government on Feb. 9. 

Thus, masks will still be required in federal spaces  – including Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District buses, Willard Airport, etc. 

Dr. Ngozi Ezike, Director of the Illinois Department of Health, said in the state press release that although masks will no longer be required in most indoor spaces soon, they are still recommended and offer a layer of protection. 

“Although people think as time goes on COVID will change, it’s not really different and people can still get it,” said senior Michaela Reid.