The University of Western Ontario announced it would no longer make Covid-19 masking mandatory. 

In a Feb. 6, Covid-19 update Western University Vice-Presidents Florentine Strzelczyk and Lynn Logan attributed recent guidance by Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health as being behind the decision.

Instead of mandating masks, Western University will only encourage students to wear masks like many other post-secondary institutions throughout the province have done for some time now. 

“Public health officials across the country agree that COVID-19 will be with us for the foreseeable future, and as we learn to live with it, we will continue to adjust and adapt,” the statements reads.

“Effective today, Western will move from mandating masks in instructional spaces to strongly encouraging masks in crowded indoor spaces like large classes. This move is aligned with the advice of public health.” 

The university’s controversial decision to require masks at a time when most were doing away with stringent Covid-19 measures comes following a series of protests over the school’s heavy-handed pandemic approach. 

Last year, Western University scrapped its vaccine mandate for students after facing a series of legal challenges including by Christian students denied religious exemptions. 

Over the weekend, Wilfrid Laurier University also saw protests from students against the school’s mask mandate. 

Fourth-year philosophy student Kamil Bachouchi organized the protest via the group Students Against Mandates. 

He told True North that he wanted Laurier to “mandate our rights or mandate our freedom instead of mandating masks.”