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Ohio University reinstates mask mandate for all indoor spaces on Athens campus starting Aug. 1

A cardboard cutout of Rufus Bobcat wearing a mask outside of College Book Store in Athens.
Michelle Rotuno-Johnson
A cardboard cutout of Rufus Bobcat wearing a mask outside of College Book Store in Athens.

Ohio University will once again require masks be worn in all indoor spaces on the Athens campus starting Monday, August 1.

The announcement Friday comes afterThursday's COVID-19 update from the state indicated Athens County had reached the threshold to be at a high COVID-19 community level, according to theCenters for Disease Control and Prevention.

CDC guidelines look at three metrics to determine COVID-19 community level: new COVID-19 admissions per 100,000 population in the past 7 days, the percent of staffed inpatient beds occupied by COVID-19 patients and total new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 population in the past 7 days.

Mask requirements at Ohio University's campuses for all indoor spaces weredropped in March when the university changed its masking policy to align with the CDC's updated mask policy. That's when Athens County was considered at a low COVID-19 community level.

Athens County reached a medium COVID-19 community level on June 23,according to the Athens City-County Health Department.

University policy states if the community is listed as “High” by the CDC, masks will be required in all indoor public spaces. If the community is “Medium”, masks will be required in classrooms, laboratories, studios, clinical settings, other learning spaces and Child Development Centers. If the community is “Low” masks will be optional on campus.

“Low” or “Medium” communities may still require masks at OU in clinical healthcare facilities, COVID-19 testing facilities and public transportation. Additionally, students, faculty and staff who test positive or are exposed to COVID-19 must follow OU masking guidelines.

Face covering exceptions on campuses where masks are required based on COVID-19 community level:

  • Children under 2 years old.
  • Any person while actively eating or drinking.
  • In settings where it is not practicable or feasible to wear a face covering such as when receiving dental treatments or while swimming.
  • Where working with equipment or in a process where wearing face coverings are impractical or dangerous, as determined by instructors or supervisors.
  • Individuals who, due to extraordinary circumstances, claim and receive a written exemption from the University’s face covering requirement through the appropriate university process.
  • Employees, students, and visitors with a disability who are unable to wear a face covering and do not receive an approved exemption may request reasonable accommodations through the Office for University Accessibility.