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KSU makes masks a must for all indoors

Two of three of the Valley’s higher learning institutions — Youngstown State University and Eastern Gateway Community College — are not requiring vaccinated students or faculty to wear masks, but they are encouraging vaccinations.

Kent State University, including its Trumbull, Salem and East Liverpool campuses, on Wednesday afternoon announced a change of its mask-wearing policy.

“Effective immediately, face coverings are required indoors for everyone, regardless of vaccination status, on all Kent State campuses,” stated Manfred van Dulmen, chair of the university’s pandemic leadership committee. “Face coverings also remain a requirement on all public transportation.”

Exceptions to this requirement are students in their residence hall rooms, those working alone in an enclosed space such as a private office or lab, those actively eating or drinking in an on-campus dining hall or restaurant and those involved in an active workout at an indoor recreation center, athletic facility or the Kent State Ice Arena.

Instructors who have opted to teach in-person classes may choose to not wear a face covering while teaching if they can maintain a safe distance of at least 6 feet from their students.

VACCINATION

COVID-19 vaccines are available at no cost to all members of the KSU community and their families at the DeWeese Health Center on the Kent Campus. University Health Services offers vaccines Monday through Friday, at varying hours between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Call the health center at 330-672-2322 to schedule an appointment.

Those from regional campuses and the College of Podiatric Medicine are welcome to make an appointment at DeWeese, or they may schedule a vaccine in their areas by using the state’s vaccination portal.

KSU is enticing even reluctant students to get the shot by offering contests and prizes. Students can win free tuition for a semester, free room and board for a semester or a kayaking trip. Other prizes to be awarded include free Homecoming concert tickets, Beats headphones and Apple watches.

KSU joins some other Ohio universities in taking a more stringent view of mask wearing and vaccination.

The Ohio State University, for example, on Monday announced that everyone on campus is required to wear masks inside its buildings. Unvaccinated people are also required to wear masks while outside. The policy was determined because of how quickly the delta variant has spread across the state. It is the dominant variant in Ohio and the U.S.

OSU students and staff must report their vaccination status by Aug. 5. For those who are not vaccinated, they will undergo weekly COVID-19 testing. Students moving in on-campus will also be tested seven days before move in and again on move-in day.

Vaccinated individuals will not be required to wear masks except on public transportation, at the Wexner Medical Center and in Student Health facilities. Unvaccinated students will be asked to wear masks indoors and to maintain social distancing.

YSU, EGCC

YSU and Eastern Gateway, meanwhile, are following recommendations by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The schools are strongly encouraging those working or taking classes indoors to wear face masks or coverings and maintain social distancing.

They also are encouraging students and staff members to get vaccinated.

The indoor wearing of masks is being encouraged regardless of whether students or staff have been vaccinated.

COVID-19 testing has been available for YSU students at Wick Primary Care over the summer. Students will have access to testing this fall. They must have a YSU identification, a driver’s license and insurance card.

At YSU, “faculty, staff and students, are strongly encouraged to get vaccinated,” the university’s website notes.

Eastern Gateway will be returning to in-seat classes this fall.

“We will follow the latest CDC guidance, which, at this point, is that masks are recommended, but not required, indoors for those who have been vaccinated. Masks will remain required for those who are unvaccinated,” said Amanda Wurst, a spokeswoman at Eastern Gateway.

She added, however, that because this is a fluid situation, due to the delta variant being more contagious than previous incarnation of the virus, the school is is monitoring the CDC’s guidance.

“We are constantly monitoring the caseloads in our service district, and updated information provided by Gov. DeWine and his administration,” Wurst said. “We are factoring all this information into our decision-making process to keep our students as safe and healthy as possible, while also offering in-person classes that many of our students prefer.”

rsmith@tribtoday.com

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