Faculty, staff and students:
Earlier this week, Douglas County implemented an emergency mask mandate for all indoor public spaces in the county, effective today, Jan. 7, to protect the community against the latest COVID-19 surge.
For the most part, this county mandate doesn’t change anything on our Lawrence campus because we have been implementing our own university mask mandate since last August. The exception is Allen Fieldhouse, which has been operating under a mask recommendation for the past two weeks but will now return to operating under a mask requirement, per the county order.
Here at KU, we have had a strong culture of mask wearing and adherence to our mask requirement in our academic spaces. This, coupled with our high vaccination rates among students and employees, has enabled us to remain on campus and be as safe as any university in the country.
That said, we are concerned about mask policy compliance in Allen Fieldhouse, where mask wearing waned during the fall semester. I want to be very clear how important it is that fans adhere to the mask policy within Allen Fieldhouse beginning with our next women’s home game Saturday, Jan. 8, versus Oklahoma and our men’s game Tuesday, Jan. 11, versus Iowa State. The reality is, if the situation in our county continues to deteriorate, and if mask wearing continues to be a challenge inside the Fieldhouse, likely next steps include closing concessions and reducing fan attendance for men’s basketball games.
We recognize the pandemic has taken a toll on each of us, and we are all weary. But the virus continues to impact our community. Now is the time to renew our efforts – both on campus and throughout the county – to protect our community. I know I can count on you to do this, beginning with mask wearing in Allen Fieldhouse.
In the meantime, please continue to take steps to protect yourself and those around you. If you have not yet been fully vaccinated, we encourage you to do so. If you are eligible for a booster, we encourage you to seek out that opportunity. Vaccines are available at no charge at pharmacies and health clinics across the region. Employees may also explore options near them at vaccines.gov.
You can expect to hear more from me and other KU administrators in the days ahead regarding our return to in-person classes on Tuesday, Jan. 18. In the meantime, stay safe and enjoy the remainder of the winter break.
Douglas A. Girod
University of Kansas