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UConn relaxes vaccine restrictions, masks no longer required

March 3, 2022 GMT

STORRS, Conn. (AP) — The University of Connecticut announced Thursday it would be relaxing COVID-19 protocols, no longer requiring masks be worn at most locations on its campuses.

In a letter to the campus community, Radenka Maric, the school’s interim president, said that starting Friday masks will be recommended rather than required for students, employees and visitors on all UConn property with some exceptions, most notably at UConn Health and other medical locations.

“Masking will continue to be required in all instructional settings, including classes, labs, studios, rehearsal rooms, and clinics, through at least April 1, 2022, when the University will reevaluate this,” she wrote.

The school said it will also be lifting its vaccination and testing requirements for fans attending games at Gampel Pavilion on campus and the XL Center in Hartford. The UConn men’s basketball team plays its final home game of the season at Gampel on Saturday and the the school is expected to host games in the first two rounds of the NCAA women’s basketball tournament.

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The Big East announced Thursday it will also no longer require masks or proof of vaccination at this weekend’s women’s conference tournament at the Mohegan Sun.

Maric said the decision to drop the masking requirement at UConn was made following the most recent guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and because there are high vaccination rates among those in the school community.

Connecticut has already given public school districts the option of dropping mask mandates. The sate has said about 90% of those districts had dropped the requirement as of Monday.

Meanwhile, Connecticut lawmakers are considering a bill that would make forging vaccination cards a crime.

The General Assembly’s Public Safety Committee is holding a public hearing Friday on proposed legislation that says anyone who “falsely makes, completes or alters” a vaccination record they know to be forged would be committing a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in prison and a $2,000 fine.

Last year at a rally supporting a religious exemption to the vaccine mandate, a box with dozens of fake vaccination cards was left out with the handwritten message: “Lost your cards?” The box was seized by State Capitol Police.

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Associated Press writer Susan Haigh contributed to this report.