Effective Thursday, Aug. 5, anyone who enters a building on an Ohio University campus will be required to wear a mask — whether they have been vaccinated against COVID-19 or not.
The policy change was announced Wednesday afternoon in an email addressed to students, faculty and staff. The email was signed by university President Hugh Sherman; Gillian Ice, special assistant to the president for public health operations; and Dr. Ken Johnson, chief medical affairs officer and dean of the Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine.
"Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, our public health decisions have been based on developing science, local epidemiology, and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Ohio Department of Health, and our local health departments," the email states. "Consistent with several peer institutions in the state of Ohio, we are updating our mask protocols to protect the health of all Bobcats and to reflect updated guidance from the CDC."
Ohio State University announced an indoor mask mandate on Monday, followed by the University of Cincinnati on Tuesday. Cleveland State University remains the only public institution of higher learning to require COVID-19 vaccination for students living on campus.
According to the email, students, staff, faculty and visitors must wear masks while entering or exiting buildings on all OU campuses and while standing in line or occupying "public/shared spaces" in those buildings. The policy recommends that those who are not vaccinated also wear masks outside when they are physically near others.
"There may be some cases where the University will require masking of everyone outdoors, regardless of vaccination status," the email states.
In addition, students living in campus residence halls will be tested for COVID-19 when they arrive for move-in, regardless of vaccination status.
The university still will require all students and employees to either provide proof of full vaccination or undergo weekly COVID-19 testing. Students who register with the university's COVID-19 Testing Pathway Program by midnight Thursday will be entered into a drawing for prizes such as fall semester tuition scholarships or dinner with men's basketball coach Jeff Boals.
According to Wednesday's email announcement, 45% of staff and students have indicated they are vaccinated.