UNC tightens teacher mask mandate on campus

Joel Brown Image
Wednesday, August 25, 2021
UNC tightens teacher mask mandate on campus
UNC-Chapel Hill changed its rule that allowed professors to remove face coverings while teaching. Instructors must stay masked up at all times indoors on campus.

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WTVD) -- There was one grey area when it came to the mask mandate inside campus buildings at UNC-Chapel Hill; professors were allowed to pull their masks down from their faces while teaching a class. After Tuesday afternoon, that grey area was gone.

An email from the university leaders Tuesday afternoon informed faculty, "Effective immediately, this standard has changed. Everyone must wear a face mask at all times while inside any university building, even while teaching."

Some students told ABC11 that they were aware of the change. Others were not. Most said their professors had not been taking any chances -- staying masked up all class long.

'I think already the faculty was being really cautious and thoughtful about COVID," said Kathryn Haenni, a first-year student from Charlotte.

"I haven't seen that rule being followed. But, then again, I just heard about it, and I think some of my teachers just have, too," said first-year student Mercy Abekola. "But I think it's just more comfortable to lecture with their masks off."

UNC is dialing up safety measures as the Delta variant surge increases COVID-19 cases in the area. The campus dashboard reports 229 cases at UNC since the start of August.

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A five-student COVID-19 cluster was identified in the Avery Hall dorms this past weekend. And on Monday, UNC began requiring students who have not attested to being vaccinated to get tested not just once -- but twice a week -- for COVID-19.

"Everybody is doing a great job as far as I can tell. I see masks everywhere. All the teachers keep them on in class. I've never seen a teacher pull it down," said Clara Lord, a first-year student from Rocky Mount.

The new requirements for twice-weekly COVID testing for students who have not attested to being vaccinated will remain until at least Sept. 15.