Face masks are back at Rutgers University after union backlash

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Rutgers flag. Photo by Photo 35381409 © Mira Agron

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ – Face masks are once again required on the campus of Rutgers University after three unions balked at lifting the mandate.

Although President Joe Biden unofficially declared an end to the COVID-19 pandemic recently, masks are once again mandatory at Rutgers.

On September 26th, officials at the university issued an order lifting indoor mask wearing on campus. In response, three faculty unions lodged complaints.

“In response to objections raised by three of our faculty unions (AAUP-AFT, AAUP-BHSNJ, and PTLFC), a designee of the New Jersey Public Employment Relations Commission (PERC) has today temporarily reinstated that part of the university mask mandate requiring all individuals to wear face coverings in our libraries. The PERC order also allows individual faculty members to require that face coverings be worn in indoor teaching spaces,” Antonio M. Calcado, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Rutgers University said in a statement today, “The PERC order was the result of an action filed by the unions late Friday afternoon seeking to restrain the university from implementing and enforcing the revised COVID-19 policy announced on Monday, September 26. Certainly, our decision to lift the mask mandate was based on current state and federal practices and is rooted in science and data.”

Although the decision to lift the mask mandate was made in response to federal and state health guidelines and science, the union’s kneejerk reaction was not.

“Today’s action by PERC is temporary and will remain in place until a final decision is made by PERC following its consideration of the submissions by the university and the unions. The university is confident that its September 26 announcement was consistent with all applicable state and federal laws,” Calcado said.