The University of Louisiana at Lafayette has updated its COVID-19 Face Covering Policy to no longer require people to wear face masks either indoors or outdoors on university property.

The university sent an announcement via email on March 15, which recommends wearing face masks, but does not require it. The email further added that departments may choose to require face masks on an individual basis.

“A department or unit may require all individuals wear face coverings over their mouths and noses if it is determined to be necessary during a specific face-to-face course, in a specific classroom, laboratory, and/or private office/workspace, or other areas,” the email reads.

A second email sent out minutes later announced a revision to the Campus Events Framework, which now states that face masks are recommended but not required at all events. Some events may make face masks a requirement, such as the recent Juried Student Exhibition by the Visual Arts Department. Events will also now no longer require staff and crowd monitors.

These changes in policy come as the spread of COVID-19 is slowing. As of March 19, USAFacts reported a 7-day average of eight cases in Lafayette Parish.

Noel Johnson, a senior majoring in speech pathology, shared that she felt it was time for the mask requirement to be lifted.

“Now that the numbers are dying down, I think it was time for it to go, and things need to start going back to normal,” she said. “I personally am vaccinated so I’m protecting myself. I feel like each individual has the opportunity to choose how they wanna live their own lives, so if they’re worried about it that’s fine, but I personally feel protected against it.”

Lauren Indorf, a sophomore majoring in kinesiology, echoed a similar thought on the pandemic slowing and returning to normalcy post-COVID-19.

“I’m pretty happy about it,” Indorf said. “I feel like COVID is dying down a lot more and we can finally get back to normal life, and I’m just excited to be back to normal, how it used to be. I’m tired of wearing masks.” 

She also added that COVID-19 is something that people will have to get used to as being part of the world.

“In my opinion, I feel like COVID is the new flu. So it’s something we’re just gonna have to get used to,” she said. “I’m not really worried about the numbers going up, considering most college students are in good health. And I feel like we’re the least susceptible to COVID and like, the dangerous aspects of COVID so I’m not too worried about it.”

Grace Boggs, a sophomore majoring in marketing, said she was in support of the mask policy being lifted.

“I’m for it because I don’t really wear a mask. I feel like if you feel like you need to wear a mask, you wear a mask. But like personally, I don’t feel like I have to wear one. But like, if it’s required I will wear one.”

Brooke Dupuis, a freshman majoring in English, shared not having strong feelings one way or the other about the mask policy.

“I’m mostly alright with it. I’ve sort of been neutral towards this whole thing from the start like I didn’t mind wearing masks. I have terrible allergies and throat problems a lot so it did kind of annoy me there. But for the most part, I didn’t mind, and I don’t really mind it being lifted too much. Breathing is easier and that’s very nice. You know, I was alright either way.”