Mask mandate dropped for school campuses
China Daily 2023-03-16 14:25

Students attend their first class after winter break at Beijing Huajiadi Experimental Primary School on Feb 13, 2023. [Photo by Wang Zhuangfei/China Daily]

Students and teachers are no longer required to wear masks on campuses, according to the latest COVID-19 epidemic control plan for schools and universities.

Issued by the Ministry of Education, the National Health Commission and the National Administration of Disease Prevention and Control on Monday, the plan said students and teachers can choose to wear masks based on their health conditions.

Medical workers, canteen staff, dormitory superintendents, deliverymen, security personnel and janitors still need to wear surgical masks. If an outbreak occurs at universities, teachers, students and workers should resume wearing masks, the plan said.

If a COVID-19 case is discovered at a school, students in the same class, their teachers and staff members who have had close contact should wear masks for five days and monitor their health, according to the plan.

No mass nucleic acid testing should be carried out at universities, yet they can conduct antigen tests or nucleic acid tests on staff members such as medical workers and canteen staff, the plan said.

Universities are also encouraged to establish health centers, and equip themselves with enough medical workers and resources to look after mild patients.

The plan asks schools and universities to store COVID-19 epidemic control materials and guide students and teachers to maintain good sanitary habits.

An Yuhang, a doctoral student at Beijing Jiaotong University, said many students at the school do not wear masks anymore, yet some still wear them to protect against flu.

"It really seems that we have won the victory against the epidemic, and COVID is behind us. Everything has returned to normal," he said.

Wang Yuntao, a senior undergraduate student at Tsinghua University, said he felt relieved and happy to see the rigorous epidemic control measures gone.

Students at the university also stopped wearing masks as the new semester began, and there are no nucleic acid testing centers or dividers at school canteen tables, he said.

There are more activities such as shows and sports events at the school and students no longer need to report to teachers to leave and enter the campuses, Wang said.