KU loosens research restrictions, including those related to travel; mask mandate will continue

photo by: Journal-World File

Students walk along Jayhawk Boulevard, donning masks, on the University of Kansas campus on Aug. 24, 2020.

The University of Kansas lifted restrictions on university-related travel this week, citing high vaccination rates against COVID-19. KU’s mask mandate, however, is likely to remain in place into the fall semester.

Simon Atkinson, vice chancellor for research, and Jason Hornberger, vice provost for finance, announced the change in a message to the KU community on Monday. Atkinson and Hornberger stated that the decision was related to vaccination rates in Lawrence and the KU community.

As of 12:30 p.m. Monday, Douglas County had the highest vaccination rate against COVID-19 in Kansas, with 465.8 people out of every 1,000 having received at least a first dose.

Atkinson and Hornberger wrote that KU employees should adhere to all state and federal guidelines when making KU-related travel plans. Additionally, because KU is not requiring students or employees to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, investigators are not allowed to require vaccination as a condition of participating in a research team.

In a Tuesday email, Atkinson announced other upcoming changes related to research on campus. Beginning May 7, researchers who need to be on campus for some aspects of their work, such as laboratory experimentation, can now remain on campus for other aspects of their work, such as data analysis, which they previously were expected to complete remotely. Additionally, investigators may propose an increase in the number of personnel in their research spaces.

“I am confident that — exercising the same care for our community that has characterized the past year — we can safely emerge vigorous and ready to show again why KU is one of the nation’s leading research universities,” Atkinson wrote in Tuesday’s email.

Despite the loosening of research restrictions, KU will continue to require masks. Face masks will be required throughout the summer “and likely well into the fall semester,” Atkinson wrote. He said KU’s mask mandate has been a “major contributor” to avoiding outbreaks on campus.


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