University recommends all individuals wear masks in indoor public spaces

Students and colleagues,

Yesterday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued updated guidance indicating that all people wear masks in indoor spaces if they are in an area of substantial or high COVID-19 transmission. That was followed by additional recommendations from Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health concerning mask wearing.

Given this new guidance and keeping with our practice of aligning with Lawrence Douglas-County Public Health recommendations, our university is recommending all people — including those who are fully vaccinated — wear masks in indoor public spaces on our Lawrence and Edwards campuses where more than one person is gathering, effective immediately.

To be clear, this recommendation is just that — a recommendation. It is not a mandate, and individuals who choose not to follow this recommendation will not be in violation of any university policy at this time. Still, we strongly urge and hope that individuals will care for their own health and contribute to the health of others by adhering to this guidance.

Masks will still be required on public transportation and in campus healthcare settings in accordance with our previous policy. Members of our community who need a cloth mask can request one by completing the PPE request form on the Protect KU website.

While current research shows fully vaccinated people represent a small amount of transmission, they still could potentially be asymptomatic and spread the virus and put unvaccinated people at risk, leading to this updated guidance.

Vaccine availability for the KU community

The best way each of us can do our part to protect ourselves and each other and fight the pandemic is to get vaccinated. We strongly recommend all students, faculty and staff get vaccinated as soon as possible if you have not already done so. Current research shows the vaccines are safe and effective at preventing severe illness from COVID-19.

Vaccines are widely available at no cost for those 12 and older in Douglas County and elsewhere. Information about upcoming clinics is available through Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health, which will begin offering walk-in appointments next week.

It is recommended that members of our community get vaccinated before returning to campus this fall, and KU is also offering ample opportunities for students to get vaccinated before and at the start of the semester.

Members of the KU community may also set a vaccine appointment through Watkins Health Services, which has both Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson doses available. Students may call 785-864-9507 or schedule an appointment through their secure patient portal.

We will also offer a vaccine clinic specially for our international student population, along with a number of walk-in vaccine opportunities for all students as the semester begins. Those walk-in clinic dates, times and locations are:

  • Aug. 21, noon to 2 p.m., Watkins Health Services building
  • Aug. 23 to 27, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Level 4 of the Kansas Union, Traditions Area
  • Aug. 31 and Sept. 1, 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., Lobby, Ambler Student Recreation Fitness Center.

We encourage students who have completed their vaccination series to upload their information to the Watkins Patient Portal. Students can expect to hear additional information about incentives to complete vaccinations as we approach the fall semester.

Looking forward

So far, we’ve kept our campus as safe as possible by following the science-based guidelines set forth by the CDC and others, and by working closely with our Pandemic Medical Advisory Team. As we have done all along, we will continue to monitor the changing situation and updated guidance from experts.

We’ve come through a lot as a university community, and we truly appreciate all you’ve done to help ensure that our university remains healthy and able to fulfill its central mission. Our successes in these efforts are a testament to all of your efforts. Thank you.

Doug and Barb

Douglas A. Girod

Barbara A. Bichelmeyer
Provost & Executive Vice Chancellor