Indiana University and Colleges Weigh Mask Rules After New CDC Guidelines



Get vaccinated and get back to normal.

This was the message that colleges and universities were selling to their students as they ran vaccination clinics, ran lotteries where vaccinated students could win a year of tuition, and ran campaigns encouraging students to get vaccinated against. COVID-19.

Campuses could reopen, classes could take place entirely in person, social life could restart. And, for people who are fully vaccinated, the masks could come off.

One month before the resumption of classes, however, new orientation released Tuesday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention could erode some of those promises.

The CDC says all individuals, including those who have been fully immunized, should resume wearing masks indoors in areas with high or high transmission rates. This includes most of Indiana. Of the state’s 92 counties, 65 see what the CDC defines as substantial or high transmission rates and some of the state’s largest colleges and universities are hosted there, including Indiana University and the Purdue University.

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While CDC director Dr Rochelle Walensky pointed out on Tuesday that the updated masking guidelines applied to K-12 schools, it’s unclear what that means for college campuses.

Indiana Colleges and Universities have been looking at the best way to bring students back to campus safely for fully in-person learning. Some, including the IU, the University of Notre Dame and Butler University, require COVID-19 vaccination. Purdue University is among those promoting the vaccine but not requiring it.

In both cases, a mask-less experiment has been a selling point for colleges and universities encouraging students to get the vaccine.

Pre-pandemic promises

In a recent question-and-answer session posted on the university’s website, IU’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr Aaron Carroll explained that it was the students’ willingness to be vaccinated that would allow in-person classes, an optional mask rule for fully immune people, and “a campus atmosphere reminiscent of the days before the pandemic.”

“We know that our students, in particular, are thrilled to have this traditional college experience with in-person classes, to see their friends on and around campus, to attend sporting and other events, and to just be a part of it. from the UI community, ”Carroll mentioned. “Because our students, faculty and staff have responded so well to getting a COVID-19 vaccine, it will all be possible this fall, and we will see campus activities as we did before the pandemic. . “

At the IU, students can request an exemption from the vaccination mandate, but will have to continue to mask themselves on campus. Its current policy has relaxed the rules for masks for fully vaccinated people, making them optional.

Chuck Carney, a spokesperson for the IU, said Tuesday afternoon that the university system had not adjusted its mask policy but would monitor developments and adjust if necessary.

“In the meantime, anyone can, of course, wear a mask on our campuses,” Carney said.

Likewise, at Butler, people with exemptions from the vaccine requirement must continue to mask themselves on campus. The university requires all students, faculty and staff to submit proof of their immunization status by August 1, three weeks before the start of the fall semester.

“We will continuously monitor campus health throughout the year and assess advice from the CDC and local health officials to determine if appropriate adjustments to our current policies are necessary,” the spokesperson said. Mark Apple.

Indiana State University, which has not mandated the vaccine but has strongly encouraged students to get the vaccine, has so far followed CDC guidelines for masking.

In a letter to the campus community dated May 14, the ISU lifted the mask’s mandate for fully vaccinated people, “following new guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control.”

Following:See if the CDC recommends you wear an indoor mask in your central Indiana county

“Those who are fully vaccinated do not have to wear a mask anywhere on campus,” the letter said. “Those who are not fully vaccinated can only be unmasked on campus in a private office or private residence room. “

On Wednesday, a spokesperson for the university said the ISU was waiting to see if there would be further guidance from the state before commenting on the mask policy.

It’s unlikely, however, that the state will institute a new mask mandate.

Purdue University, which encourages but doesn’t require the vaccine, is an outlier among the state’s largest institutions of higher learning. Currently, the university still requires masks in classrooms for everyone, regardless of immunization status, but has relaxed the rules for masking in other indoor spaces. For those who are fully vaccinated, masks are no longer required in campus libraries, restaurants, offices and sports center.

The university has not announced a decision regarding hiding in teaching spaces during the fall semester.

Call IndyStar education reporter Arika Herron at 317-201-5620 or email her at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter: @ArikaHerron.


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