Maddening Rutgers mask policy changed again
The on again, off again, mask policy at Rutgers University is off again.
The faculty union has been pressing for Rutgers to let professors decide if masks should be worn in classrooms, and are awaiting a final ruling from the state's Public Employment Relations Council (PERC.)
A hearing has been schedule for later this month, but a final ruling is not expected until December.
Rutgers dropped the universal mask policy that had been in effect during the pandemic on Oct.3. It was reinstated Oct. 5 when the Rutgers AAUP-AFT union filed a complaint before PERC, claiming the decision was made without their input and outside the collective bargaining process. They claimed it was a "change in working conditions."
PERC has now said Rutgers can drop the mask mandate pending their final ruling.
Rutgers' executive vice president and chief operations officer Antonio Calcado explained the change in an email to faculty and staff, stressing that face covering remains optional in classrooms and libraries. Calcado says the school "fully respects" a personal decision to wear a mask, and encouraged students and staff to do so, but it was not a requirement.
Union officials expressed disappointment.
The majority of colleges and universities in New Jersey dropped mask mandates for the new school year, though they remain optional for anyone on campus.
Princeton University does allow professors to decide if masks are to be worn in their individual learning spaces, which is what the Rutgers' union is arguing for.
The PERC hearing on the matter is scheduled for Nov. 22.
Eric Scott is the senior political director and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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