Faculty, staff and students,
Last week, concern about the COVID-19 Delta variant led the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to advise that all individuals – regardless of vaccination status – wear masks in indoor spaces in regions of the country experiencing substantial COVID-19 transmission.
Since then, the variant has continued to spread nationally and is now putting significant strain on healthcare systems throughout Kansas and neighboring states.
In light of this, effective Monday, August 9, the University of Kansas will reinstate a mandate that everyone on the Lawrence and Edwards campuses – regardless of vaccination status – wear masks indoors. Additionally, masks are strongly recommended in outdoor crowded spaces on those campuses. You can view the full text of the mask policy for additional detail.
This decision – like all our health and safety decisions during the pandemic – was made in consultation with the Pandemic Medical Advisory Team and in coordination with regional partners. As you may know, a number of other universities in the region – including Kansas State University, Wichita State University, and the University of Missouri – have enacted similar mask mandates in recent days.
For those of you who were part of our university community last year, the requirement to wear a mask is familiar to you. As we reinstate this mask mandate, we will have the same expectations and enforcement mechanisms that we had last year.
This mask mandate is an important and hopefully short-lived step that will enable us to prioritize health and safety while maintaining our commitment to a full on-campus experience for students this fall. I know I can count on our talented faculty and staff to continue preparing for in-person instruction and all of the opportunities our students expect and deserve this semester.
Reminders about vaccine availability
The best way each of us can protect ourselves and the community, and enable society to get back to normal, is to get vaccinated. All members of the KU community are urged to get vaccinated now – before they return to campus – if they have not already done so.
Vaccines are widely available at no cost in Douglas County and elsewhere. Information about upcoming clinics is available through Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health.
Additionally, KU is offering ample opportunities to get vaccinated. Members of the KU community may make an appointment through Watkins Health Services. We will also offer a vaccine clinic specifically for international students, along with walk-in opportunities for all students, as the semester begins.
Students can expect additional information about incentives to complete vaccinations as we approach the fall semester.
State law limits the university’s ability to require vaccines or proof of vaccination. We strongly encourage students who have completed their vaccination series to voluntarily upload their information to the Watkins Patient Portal, which will enable us to have accurate data to inform future decisions.
Thank you for your flexibility as we continue to navigate this pandemic. I am proud to be part of an institution that continues to prioritize health and safety while still fulfilling our obligations to our students, state and society.
Douglas A. Girod