The school has implemented rigorous COVID-19 prevention requirements for attendance. Instructors and students are not permitted to remove masks to speak, even during class.
The mandate has made school difficult for some students with disabilities.
“I am an undergraduate at the University of Chicago, a school which I love,” student Declan Hurley said. “But today, I am imploring the University of Chicago administration to lift or modify their mask mandate, which hurts deaf and hard of hearing people like me.”
Hurley is vice president of the independent school newspaper, The Chicago Thinker, and has a hearing disability.
Last fall, the university was more relaxed with its restrictions, allowing individuals to remove masks when speaking. However, the rule has since been tightened, no longer allowing students to remove their masks, even for discussion or to participate in classes.
“This policy allowed me to actually hear my classmates and instructors as masks muffle people’s speech and prevent me from reading their lips,” Hurley explained in a video, referring to the previous rules. “Moreover, people subconsciously change their speech patterns while wearing masks. But this quarter, the university is explicitly banning students and professors from taking off their masks while speaking in class.”
Hurley went on to claim that the university has passed a series of policies that are at odds with the world’s current understanding of the COVID-19 virus.