Colorado College Drops Its Mask Mandate, Leading A Chorus Of Higher Education Institutions

June 28, 2021
PALMER HALL COLORADO COLLEGEPALMER HALL COLORADO COLLEGEHart Van Denburg/CPR News
Palmer Hall on the Colorado College campus in Colorado Springs.

For the first time in over a year, professors and students at Colorado College will share the same classroom. The upcoming semester should look relatively normal across the state, as universities aim to reduce remote or hybrid classes in their course offerings. 

The private Colorado Springs school effectively dropped its on-campus mask mandate today. It’s the most concrete move to ease coronavirus restrictions among the state’s higher education institutions. 

Colorado College, along with most of the state’s higher education institutions, will require students, faculty and staff to get vaccinated before returning to campus in the fall. However, like all mandatory vaccinations, individuals are allowed to request exemptions due to personal, medical or religious reasons.

Officials estimate at least 84 percent of the campus population — which includes students, faculty and staff — is fully vaccinated, though only 60 percent of people have submitted proof of vaccination. Unvaccinated individuals will be encouraged to wear a mask, but it will not be enforced.

In its announcement, Colorado College warned of the danger the Delta variant poses against unvaccinated people. 

“The CDC still strongly recommends masks for unvaccinated people, who are at the greatest risk of becoming infected,” the announcement said. “The Delta variant, expected to become dominant in the U.S. very soon, spreads more quickly than previous variants and poses a risk for more vulnerable people to be infected and experience serious illness if they are not fully vaccinated.”

About 278,000 people in El Paso County have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. It’s one of the least-vaccinated counties on the Front Range, according to state data.  

Several other colleges, like Colorado Mesa University and Fort Lewis College, have dropped their mask mandates for vaccinated individuals, but unvaccinated people must still mask up. The University of Northern Colorado in Greeley has announced that its mask requirement for all people will go on hold for the summer term, but it has not announced whether it will be dropped for the fall, when the campus is more densely populated. 

The state is pushing to get younger people vaccinated. Last fall, college-aged students largely drove the peak of the coronavirus pandemic in Colorado. 

Over the past year, college students have had their college-experience disrupted by the pandemic, with occasional pauses to in-person classes due to outbreaks and cancellations.  Despite coronavirus restrictions, colleges had difficulties reigning in off-campus gatherings, such as one in Boulder where some attendees attacked police officers sent to break up the party. 

Disclaimer: Colorado College holds the license for KRCC, which is a part of Colorado Public Radio.

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