Multiple colleges and universities are reinstating mask mandates as the fall semester begins.
West Virginia University will require everyone to wear masks, regardless of vaccination status, while in classrooms and labs on campuses starting today. The university is also encouraging mask wearing in other indoor on-campus settings.
An announcement from the university said the reinstated mask mandate is partly because of “increasing evidence” that the protection provided by the vaccines is dissipating and booster shots could be needed. It also noted that more than 10,000 students, faculty members and staff have not yet submitted proof of vaccination. Those without verified vaccinations are required to provide a negative COVID-19 test result by Friday, though less than 15 percent have submitted results. About 8,000 students, faculty members and staff have also not completed a required COVID-19 education module.
“We have always stated that our highest priority is to offer a fully in-person, on-campus academic and student experience this fall,” Maryanne Reed, provost and vice president for academic affairs at WVU, said in the announcement. “Based on the data we have, the additional temporary measure of masking will provide an extra layer of protection for the academic settings.”
Gonzaga University in Washington State also updated its mask policy Monday, requiring masks be worn for at least the first few weeks of the fall semester. The mask mandate applies to any indoor space where multiple people are congregating in close proximity.
Johnson County Community College in Kansas similarly reinstated mandatory masking in classrooms, work areas, public indoor spaces such as lobbies and hallways, and private offices when occupied by more than one person, starting yesterday.