KU ends mask mandate on campus, strongly encourages unvaccinated people to continue to wear masks

photo by: Mike Yoder/Journal-World Photo

A lone Jayhawk mask remains on a Memorial Stadium at graduation ceremonies honoring both KU's Class of 2020 and Class of 2021 on Sunday, May 23, 2021, on the KU campus.

Masks are no longer required in most settings on the University of Kansas campus.

Chancellor Douglas Girod sent a message to the university community on Thursday saying KU was eliminating the mask requirement after recent guidance from the CDC that fully vaccinated individuals could safely go maskless in most situations. KU lifted its mask mandate after Douglas County commissioners allowed a local mask mandate to expire on Wednesday.

KU’s new policy will allow anyone to go maskless on campus, regardless of whether they are vaccinated. However, Girod said “individuals who are not vaccinated are strongly encouraged to continue wearing masks and social distancing, and to get vaccinated as soon as possible.”

The CDC guidance has said people who are not fully vaccinated should continue to wear masks, lest they risk spreading the disease to others or getting ill themselves.

The elimination of the mask mandate applies to both the Lawrence campus and the Edwards campus in Johnson County. Masks still will be required on public transportation, such as the buses that bring students to and from campus. Campus health care facilities, such as the Watkins Health Center, also will still require masks.

Girod also said people should expect to see larger gatherings on the KU campus. The Lawrence and Edwards campuses are shifting from a low-density operations plan to a medium-density plan.

“In practical terms, this means you can expect to see larger events — such as student orientation — and more employees returning to campus in the days ahead,” Girod said.

This is the first time since the pandemic began that KU has shifted to a medium-density operation plan, Girod said.

Girod said the easing of restrictions amounts to a new chapter in KU’s pandemic response.

“Our success in this new phase will depend on each of us respecting each other and taking ownership of our personal health,” he said.

Girod noted that KU has had no known COVID-19 transmissions “within our classroom or research settings, and no outbreaks stemming from university events.”

Girod, who is a medical doctor, said KU has been successful in battling the pandemic because it has followed science-based guidelines set forth by the CDC, local health organizations and the university’s pandemic medical advisory team.

“We will continue to make decisions based on the guidance of these entities,” he said.

Girod said KU will “do everything possible” to encourage vaccinations in the coming weeks and months. He said that will include student-specific efforts as the fall semester approaches.


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