Our chancellor has confirmed what I thought was obvious. We’re going to be masked up on campus from now on.
As we make plans for our fall return to campus, there have been many questions concerning the use of masks and other face coverings. In my June 5 message I shared initial guidance on this topic. Over the last several weeks, however, the research, guidance, and advice we have received from medical experts and public health officials has evolved.
We now know a simple face covering provides valuable protection against the spread of COVID-19. We know that it’s possible to carry COVID-19 with no apparent symptoms and unknowingly infect others; face coverings reduce the chance that individuals might unknowingly infect others. We also know masks and face coverings send strong visual cues reminding us all to take precautions to protect our health and the health of our neighbors, colleagues, and friends. Together, the physical protection and visual reminders provided by masks and face coverings can help us all support our community as we come back together on campus.
We know, too, that extra precautions may be appropriate in communities that have higher levels of COVID-19 spread, or risk of spread, due to larger populations, shared living environments, and other factors. We have such communities on campus and must exercise caution accordingly.
Given these developments, I am updating our earlier recommendation on the use of masks.
Effective July 1 and continuing until rescinded, all University of Minnesota students, faculty, staff, and visitors (including contractors, service providers, vendors, and suppliers) are required to use a face covering at all times when in any enclosed or indoor space on University campuses and properties with the following exceptions:
- When eating or drinking; however, physical distancing must be practiced.
- In your assigned on-campus apartment or residence hall room.
- When you are alone in a room or where a posted and official University notice indicates masks are not needed.
- When you are alone in a motor vehicle.
- If you are unable to wear a face covering while exercising at the Cougar Sports Center or Regional Fitness Center.
- In labs or other places that instead require use of a respirator.
- If you require accommodations for health or disability reasons. On the Morris campus, the Disability Resource Center and Human Resources can help identify needed accommodations.
The full face covering protocol can be found at the Return to Campus website. An extensive FAQ is also available online.
I take exception to some of the exceptions, though. There’s no reason not to wear a mask while exercising; if you have a serious respiratory problem that prevent you from wearing one, exercise outdoors. Otherwise, the fitness center is going to be a major source of problems, especially given that it is a community resource and I’ve often seen older people using, for instance, the indoor track. The “health or disability” reason is just a gaping loophole, given that so many healthy people are trying to argue that they get to be exempt from the rules. Be specific: you need an official accommodation from our health center.
Randy Rainbow was much more entertaining with the same message.