IU to drop most mask requirements, social distancing for fall semester

Coronavirus

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Indiana University announced most restrictions on masks and physical distancing will be dropped for the upcoming 2021 fall semester.

It’s part of the university’s fall “Restart Committee Recommendations for Fall 2021.”

Earlier, IU announced a COVID-19 vaccine requirement for all students, faculty and staff at all of its campuses, including IUPUI.

As a result of the university’s new vaccine requirement, students, faculty and staff will be able to dispense with masks, physical distancing in the classroom, studio and laboratory, as well as for recreation and extracurricular activity.

People will be allowed a vaccine exemption for religious and medical reasons. They must fill out a form that will be available starting June 2. People who will not be physically attending IU can get an online exemption.

Anyone who did get the vaccine will no longer have to upload proof. They will instead be able to certify their status as part of a simple attestation form that will also be available on June 2.

“Requiring the COVID-19 vaccine for IU students, faculty and staff with appropriate exemptions continues the university’s comprehensive science and public health-driven approach to managing and mitigating the pandemic on our campuses,” said IU President Michael A. McRobbie.

“Throughout the pandemic our paramount concern has been ensuring the health and safety of the IU community. This requirement will make a ‘return to normal’ a reality for the fall semester.”

The fall health and safety guidance will be effective beginning Aug. 1 and was developed by the university’s Restart Committee, which is led by IU School of Medicine Dean Dr. Jay Hess and includes medical, public health, legal and ethical experts.

“I am immensely thankful for the cooperation of our students, faculty and staff through the last academic year with all of the necessary health and safety guidelines,” said Dr. Aaron Carroll, distinguished professor of pediatrics at the IU School of Medicine and one of the leaders of IU’s Medical Response Team.

“As we approach the fall semester knowing that the vast majority of our IU community will be vaccinated, we are now able to remove many of the restrictions that had been in place and return to a more typical university experience.”

Fall guidelines

Some of the guidelines that will be in place include:

  • Wearing a mask on campus will be optional for those students, faculty and staff who are fully vaccinated. Those who are exempt from the vaccine requirement or are in the process of becoming fully vaccinated — which occurs two weeks past the last dose of a COVID-19 vaccine — should continue to wear a mask on campus.
  • Classrooms, labs, housing, dining, recreation and other campus facilities will return to pre-pandemic capacities, with no physical distancing required.
  • Classes will be held in person in typical classroom settings.
  • On-campus childcare facilities will need to continue to follow Family and Social Services Administration and CDC business plan guidance because young children are not yet eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. Individuals working in these facilities will continue to wear a mask at all times and maintain physical distancing in classrooms even if fully vaccinated.
  • Regular cleaning and disinfecting of public spaces and high-touch surfaces will continue, and hand sanitizer stations will continue to be available in high-traffic areas.
  • Students, faculty and staff who are fully vaccinated will not need to participate in mitigation testing. They will, however, be asked to participate in surveillance testing to monitor for outbreaks or other areas of concern.
  • Students who are exempt or not yet fully vaccinated and living in on-campus, communal living will participate in arrival testing.
  • Anyone with a positive COVID-19 test, regardless of vaccination status, will need to isolate for 10 days, or until symptoms improve and they are fever-free for 24 hours without medication, whichever is longer.

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