November 27, 2021

SUNY updates mask policy

Chancellor: Vaccinated students can go uncovered outside

Colin Spencer/staff reporter

Chloe Nolan, a SUNY Cortland junior, crosses Graham Avenue Tuesday, wearing a mask. SUNY Cortland will follow state policy and allow vaccinated students to go without masks outside on campus, unless in large or crowded gatherings.

SUNY Cortland will abide by SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras’s proclamation that SUNY students, faculty and staff who have been fully vaccinated won’t need to wear masks outside when not in crowded spaces or large gatherings.

“We’ll honor what the chancellor says, of course,” SUNY Cortland President Erik Bitterbaum said Tuesday.

The change for SUNY colleges was enacted following Malatras’ announcement Friday, according to a news release from the chancellor’s office, though students at SUNY Cortland were still wearing masks outside Tuesday and signs requiring students to wear masks from earlier in the pandemic remained up.

The guidelines follow the latest national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations on mask wearing, the release said.

“With vaccination rates increasing, easing mask requirements outdoors represents a first step toward restoring more normalcy on our campuses,” Malatras said in the release. “As we set our sights on the fall semester — and reopening our campuses, we hope to be able to lift many more COVID-related restrictions in the weeks and months to come.”

Mask wearing will still be required in classrooms.

Bitterbaum said that only if there are large groups of unmasked students or staff will the college ask people to wear masks.

“If you’re in a small group or walking by yourself, no one will be bothering you,” he said.

Bitterbaum said the effect may not be seen this semester, which ends next week.

He applauded the diligence of students and staff wearing masks throughout the semester as there have been no pauses in in-person learning and no students have been hospitalized.

Sophomore Emily Hicks said she had mixed feelings about the news.

“If you’re vaccinated and only with roommates, I think it would be OK,” she said.

However, she noted, not all students are vaccinated, creating some risk of contracting the virus.

Hicks said she hadn’t been vaccinated but planned to do so once the semester finished. Until then, she’ll keep wearing a mask.