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UCLA to lift on-campus masking, testing requirements beginning April 11

UCLA will remove indoor mask requirements and weekly COVID-19 surveillance requirements beginning two weeks after the beginning of spring quarter for individuals up to date with vaccinations. (Ashley Kenney/Photo editor)

By Noah Danesh

March 11, 2022 5:12 p.m.

This post was updated March 16 at 5:59 p.m.

UCLA will lift its indoor mask and surveillance testing requirements starting April 11 for people up-to-date on vaccinations, the university announced Friday.

Both wearing masks indoors and weekly COVID-19 testing will continue to be highly recommended, said Dr. Chaitali Mukherjee, the executive director of the Arthur Ashe Student Health and Wellness Center, during a briefing with the Daily Bruin on Thursday.

COVID-19 infection trends on campus continue to improve following the omicron surge – the positivity rate for surveillance testing has decreased to 0.4% from more than 9% in early January. COVID-19-related hospitalizations at UCLA Health have gone down from 160 in January to 20 this past week, Mukherjee said. 

Current precautions, including the indoor mask mandate, will remain in place for the first two weeks of spring quarter to ensure COVID-19 case numbers remain low before relaxing measures.

“Given how low the community rates are right now, we’re anticipating this is going to go smoothly, but we do want to keep our pulse on things,” Mukherjee said during the briefing. 

UCLA’s new protocols follow California’s lifting of its statewide mask mandate Feb. 16 and Los Angeles County removing indoor mask requirements March 4.

On the first day of spring quarter, March 28, instructors can decide to remove their masks while teaching if they are up to date with their COVID-19 vaccinations – defined as receiving all required vaccine doses and a booster shot if eligible – and if they are able to maintain at least a 6-foot distance from students. 

Students, faculty and staff who must remove their masks indoors for music and performing arts will need to continue surveillance testing three times per week until LA County Department of Public Health requirements are changed.

[Related: Indoor mask mandate will be lifted in LA County beginning March 4]

During the briefing, Mukherjee said there will be a return-to-campus testing protocol following spring break. Students who live in congregate environments – including residence halls and fraternity or sorority houses – will be required to take rapid COVID-19 tests upon returning to campus. Students, faculty and staff who traveled during spring break will also be required to conduct a COVID-19 test on the day of returning, three to five days after returning, and once the following week. 

Mukherjee said even after the mask mandate is lifted, UCLA will continue to provide free surgical and N95 masks to students at locations across campus.

Mukherjee said UCLA will remain prepared for COVID-19 challenges during the spring quarter – including by sustaining the exposure management team’s staffing and maintaining more than 1,200 isolation housing beds available for students who test positive. 

“While it’s no longer mandated to maintain social distance or maybe to wear a mask or to test every week, we’re still providing all of the resources,” Mukherjee said. “The infrastructure is here to ensure that we have a very safe spring quarter, end of the academic year and hopefully a big celebration for all of these milestones that you all have achieved.”

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