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Marquette ends on-campus mask mandate, but students still have to wear them at most Chicago universities

The Milwaukee school’s decision was criticized by some in the university community.

Marquette University in Milwaukee.
Marquette University in Milwaukee

Even as one midwestern university is lifting mask mandates for all students and staff on its campus, Chicago schools say they have no plans to follow suit.

Marquette University, a private school in Milwaukee, announced the lifting of its mask requirement last week — even for those who aren’t vaccinated. That aligns with the city of Milwaukee’s move to end its citywide mask mandate. But officials suggested those who are unvaccinated or who are at high risk for complications from the coronavirus continue to wear masks.

“While there will no longer be a mask requirement in place, we support guidance from health officials that mask wearing indoors decreases the spread of COVID-19,” officials said in a statement. “We encourage members of our community who are unvaccinated, immunocompromised or at high risk for COVID-19 complications to continue wearing a mask while indoors.”

The decision, however, was met with criticism in the Marquette community from staff who are frustrated with the university’s overall COVID-19 response. The school has not made a decision yet on whether to require students get vaccinated, as the University of Chicago, Northwestern, Loyola, Columbia College and DePaul have done.

In a letter sent out to the university’s leadership team Tuesday, Our Marquette, a group of faculty and members of the Marquette Academic Workers Union, requested the school immediately reinstate the mask mandate “until and unless” a vaccine requirement is put in place.

“Preventing and reducing transmission of COVID-19 requires multiple layers of protective measures. By not requiring vaccines on campus and by abandoning the evidence-based mask-wearing requirement, Marquette is placing students, faculty, and staff at greater risk of infection,” the letter said.

Other local colleges have updated their mask mandates according to phased reopening plans for the fall, but masks are still required indoors.

Vaccinated individuals at Northwestern and University of Illinois at Chicago don’t have to wear masks outdoors, but are still required to do so indoors, officials said.

At Loyola, masks are no longer required outdoors except during group events, but are still required indoors at all times, officials said.

Everyone on Roosevelt University’s campus must wear a mask at all times, according to the university’s website.