Rutgers University is relaxing their mask policy for students and staff, but face coverings are still be required in most teaching spaces.

As of Monday, April 4, university officials say students and faculty may go unmasked in offices, conference rooms, research labs, housing facilities, and public spaces inside campus buildings.

However, everyone will still need to mask-up inside all teaching spaces. This includes classrooms, lecture halls, teaching and computer labs, libraries and clinical facilities.

Masks are also still required on all campus busses.

Everyone on campus is encouraged to carry a mask with them at all times.

Since the earliest stages of the pandemic, Rutgers has had some of the strictest COVID-19 protocols in New Jersey and the nation.

In March, 2021, the university became the first in the nation to require proof of COVID vaccination for all students attending on-campus classes.

A large number of students protested the requirement, and a small group of students sued Rutgers claiming the policy was "both illegal and unconstitutional."

The suit was rejected by a federal judge, and the vaccine mandate remains in place. The majority of colleges and universities in New Jersey and around the U.S. have adopted similar policies.

COVID cases have been steadily rising in recent weeks. New Jersey's rate of transmission is 1.03, meaning an active spread of the virus. Despite the increase, there have not been any reports of a sharp increase in serious illness and hospitalizations have remained at about 300 statewide.

Last week, Gov. Phil Murphy tested positive for COVID-19 and was isolating for five days. Asked the likelihood of imposing new mandates to deal with a new wave of infections, Murphy said he did not anticipate that would be the case.

"We are not going to manage this to zero," Murphy said, echoing previous statements he has made while relaxing COVID restrictions he had previously put in place.

Murphy lifted his controversial mask mandate for schools on March 7.

Eric Scott is the senior political director and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at eric.scott@townsquaremedia.com

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