The University of Nevada, Reno and the Nevada System of Higher Education lifted their mast mandate at all institutions following an announcement from Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak, which lifted the state mandate on Feb 10.
“Pursuant to Nevada law, NSHE employees, students and members of the public are no longer required to wear face coverings while inside NSHE buildings irrespective of vaccination status,” said Brian Sandoval, UNR’s president, in a statement to the campus community.
The implementation of the updated policy will take place immediately and apply to all faculty, staff and students.
According to UNR’s COVID-19 Dashboard, the campus has amassed 770 positive cases since the start of the spring semester on Jan. 18. Eighty positive cases have been reported, so far, in February since it was last updated on Feb. 4.
In response to the lifting of the mask mandate, a petition was made urging university administration to keep mask requirement in place. The petition, sponsored by the Nevada Graduate Student Workers, has obtained over 300 signatures and is growing.
Currently, over 140 signatures on the petition are from university faculty and the remaining are students.
“It feels like one step closer to what life was like before,” said Rylie Thacker, a sophomore at UNR. “Hopefully it does not backfire like it has in the past.”
However, Thacker is still concerned with how COVID-19 is spreading. She said she wants students to continue taking safety precautions to slow the spread of the virus even without masks.
“Stay home if you feel sick please. We do not need more cases,” Thacker said.
Meghan Trowbridge, a staff member for the College of Science, said she trusts Sisolak guidance, but hoped the university would keep the mask mandate on campus.
At home, she has a one-year-old son who is not vaccine eligible, and she is concerned for his health and safety.
“ … [H]is safety is my number one priority,” she said. “I absolutely must come to campus for work and school. I feel that maintaining the mask mandate at UNR will keep everyone and their families as safe as possible.”
Sisolak cited a rapid decline in the number of COVID-19 cases with around 200 testing positive daily. He said this in contrast to Jan. 10, the highest day for COVID-19 cases, which was over 7000 positive cases.
“Now is the appropriate time to announce that Nevada will rescind our mask mandate effective immediately,” Sisolak said during a press conference. “Masks will no longer be required in public places, but there are still locations where you still will be asked to wear a mask.”
Over 2 million Nevadans have reported to have initiated the vaccination process and over 1.6 million have reported their vaccination process as completed.
Emerson Drewes can be reached via email at email@example.com or via Twitter @NevadaSagebrush.