Face masks will continue to be required in all Salisbury University buildings through the summer and likely into the fall semester, SU President Charles Wight said during his monthly COVID-19 briefing Thursday.
Wight said the mask mandate and “appropriate social distancing [are] likely to continue, to some extent, in the fall,” though a COVID-19 vaccination requirement has already been issued for all University System of Maryland students and employees for the upcoming semester.
Gov. Larry Hogan lifted mask and social distancing requirements for both vaccinated and unvaccinated Marylanders on May 14, outside of exceptions for public transportation and health care facilities.
SU’s mandate aligns with current USM guidance, which instructs each of its institutions to maintain masking requirements for all indoor facilities indefinitely, regardless of an individual’s vaccination status.
However, the University of Maryland and Towson University recently loosened their on-campus masking restrictions, contradicting the system’s guidance. The two fellow USM schools lifted their indoor mask mandates for fully vaccinated individuals on May 28 and June 1, respectively.
An individual is considered “fully vaccinated” two weeks after receiving the final shot of a two-dose vaccine or the lone shot of a single-dose vaccine.
SU has advised its campus community members to receive at least their first dose of the vaccine by July 6 to comply with the vaccination requirement.
Wight continued to urge students, faculty and staff to receive their first vaccination doses by the target date, as SU’s vaccination rate will serve a critical role in the university’s return to pre-pandemic levels of operation.
“The closer we get to [a fully vaccinated campus population], the more normal campus will feel for students and employees,” Wight said.
SU has already implemented a series of heightened restrictions for unvaccinated students and employees who return in the fall without a medical or religious exemption.
While in-person events may experience a gradual return in the fall, Wight said classrooms are on track to return to full capacity, with more than 80% of all instruction to be given face-to-face for SU’s “most normal fall semester since 2019.”
The university will reevaluate the face masking and social distancing mandates prior to the start of the fall semester, Wight said.
For more information on SU’s COVID-19 prevention protocols or to view the latest university COVID-19 test results, visit https://www.salisbury.edu/coronavirus/testing-info.aspx.
By JAKOB TODD
Featured image courtesy of Salisbury University Public Relations Office.