Central Connecticut State University in New Britain. June 10, 2020. Cloe Poisson / CTMirror.org

Connecticut State Colleges and Universities President Terrence Cheng announced on Thursday that mask-wearing at the CSCU campuses will no longer be required, beginning next month.

The mask mandate at all 17 campuses will switch to “mask-optional” everywhere, including classrooms, starting April 4, and employees will not have “the authority to mandate the use of masks by others.”

In a statement sent out Thursday, Cheng said changes in guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and metrics and conversations with the state Department of Public Health, campus COVID coordinators, and CSCU leaders led to the decision to relax current protocols.

“Our campuses will now shift from pandemic emergency response to routine disease prevention,” Cheng said. “Campus leaders and their teams will continue to monitor state and federal guidance and the community virus conditions. They will be prepared to reinstate mitigation strategies as needed to respond to upticks in cases if and when they occur this spring and in future semesters.”

This change follows the decision the University of Connecticut made last week to relax its mask mandate in most campus settings and for people attending games at Gampel Pavilion and the XL Center.

In addition to relaxing mask mandates, the CSCU system is ending weekly COVID testing for employees and students as well as individual case contact tracing. Physical distance restrictions will also be removed in non-academic settings like lounges, cafeterias, and conference rooms, but 3-feet distancing will remain in most classroom settings for the rest of the spring semester.

PCR testing will continue on campuses for students and employees through April 1, and COVID coordinators will have rapid tests available.

“We expect employees and students to continue to self-monitor their health and stay home whenever they have COVID-like symptoms and follow current CDC guidance on quarantine and isolation,” Cheng said in a statement. “Employees and students who test positive should continue to follow the campus process for notification. Human Resources, Health Services, or the COVID Coordinator, as appropriate, will determine the quarantine and isolation expectations, confirm when it is safe to return to campus or classes, and notify close contacts as needed.”

Adria was CT Mirror's Education and Community Reporter. She grew up in Oakland, graduated from Sacramento State where she was co-news editor of the student newspaper, and worked as a part-time reporter at CalMatters. Most recently Adria interned at The Marshall Project, a national nonprofit news organization that reports on criminal justice issues. Adria was one of CT Mirror’s Report For America Corps Members.