Back to Pre-COVID Life: Masks No Longer Mandatory at University of Manitoba

Canada North America COVID-19 Higher Education News by Erudera News Apr 25, 2023

students wearing masks

The University of Manitoba, the largest university in the province of Manitoba, has announced it will return to pre-pandemic protocols, ending the campus mask mandate from May 1, 2023.

In a message to the university’s community on Monday, April 24, U of M president and vice-chancellor Michael Benarroch said that masks will not be mandatory starting next week. Yet, the school will encourage using them, Erudera.com reports.

“This change will align UM with current public health practices across the province,” Benarroch emphasized in his message.

The university will continue to supply the UM community with masks and still recommends students and employees wear masks on campus, particularly in indoor spaces where social distancing is impossible to be maintained.

President Benarroch said that while the school lifts the mask mandate, individuals’ risk assessment will depend. He requested everyone on campus to respect the decision of others to use or not masks.

In his statement, he highlighted the importance of masks in helping the community to be safe during the COVID-19 pandemic when vaccines were still to be distributed, and hospitals were under the greatest tension.

Benarroch said that Manitoba is one of the last institutions in Canada to end the mask rule because, amid the pandemic, the school was cautious of the most vulnerable, who still carry more burden than others.

Wishing students the best of luck in the final week of the term, the President also thanked the entire university community who followed the rules during the pandemic and gave their part of the contribution to protect one another.

“Thank you to everyone who has consistently prioritized public health by wearing a mask. I recognize it may not always be comfortable or convenient to do so, but I sincerely appreciate how committed this community is to keeping each other safe,” Benarroch said.

In the fall semester last year, the University of Manitoba extended the mask mandate into the winter term in an effort to ensure a safe work and learning environment, assessing that the mask rule is the best way to protect the community.

At the time, school officials said that many UM community members had expressed a desire for the school to keep the mask mandate and stated that the rule would be relaxed only “when it is safer to do so.”

Founded in 1877, the University of Manitoba is one of the 15 research-intensive universities in Canada. It has more than 31,000 undergraduate and graduate students, 21 percent of them international students, from 115 countries.

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