Study shows high mask compliance at CU Boulder

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University of Colorado campus in Boulder

University of Colorado Boulder campus

BOULDER, Colo. (KDVR) — The University of Colorado said Wednesday that a CDC-sponsored study of 53 U.S. universities showed a high rate of mask compliance on their Boulder campus.

From mid-February to mid-April, more than a dozen student volunteers took hour-long shifts once a week to observe mask wearing practices on and around campus in high-traffic areas. With every three people who passed by, the students made note of their mask habits.

The results showed that more than 98% of people at CU Boulder wore a mask indoors on campus during the spring semester, with 93% wearing it correctly.

On the flip side, when factoring in outdoor locations on and around campus, 79.4% of people complied with mask mandates.

“I think we have all felt a little hopeless at times about the pandemic, like there is nothing we can do to help. This felt like a good opportunity to get involved,” said Alex Jackson, a sophomore integrative physiology major who volunteered to be an observer. “There has been some valid criticism about student behavior this year. But in general I would hope that these findings would give us students a little better rap.”

After close to 3,000 observations, it was concluded that depending on location, anywhere form 45% to 99% of people could be observed wearing a mask and wearing it correctly.

“Our study shows a fairly high rate of compliance, highlighting the commitment many of our students have made to protect our community,” Tanya Alderete, an assistant professor in the Department of Integrative Physiology who is heading up the research for the CU Boulder site said.

With CDC guidelines loosening for fully vaccinated people however, Alderete says that masks are still key to controlling the pandemic, advising students to follow the “two-out-of-three rule” at all times: be outdoors, be socially distanced, or wear a mask.

“In the U.S., thousands of people are still getting sick and dying from COVID-19. And while vaccination decreases the risk of infection and the severity of disease, these risks are not zero,” Alderete said. “This means that responsible behavior is still important. The pandemic is not over yet, even if we want it to be,” she said.

Nationally, after more than 89,000 observations, the CDC-sponsored study found that 96% of people wore masks on campus and 91% wore them properly.

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