Kent State Drops Mask Requirement

KENT, Ohio – Effective today, face masks are no longer required indoors on all Kent State University campuses, regardless of the level of community spread of COVID-19.

The decision was announced today in a letter emailed to students, faculty and staff. The letter was signed by Melissa Zullo, Ph.D, director of the university’s pandemic institutionalization effort; and Dr. Lisa Dannemiller, the university’s chief physician.

Kent State had been following the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention relating to quarantine and isolation and has required masks indoors at its campuses in counties where the spread level is high.

That changed with Wednesday’s announcement.

“Recent changes in CDC recommendations have caused us to reevaluate the requirement of masks indoors when community levels are high,” the letter states. “Effective today, face masks are no longer required indoors on our campuses, regardless of the community level.”

However, when the CDC designates a county at a high level of community transmission, face masks will be highly recommended, the letter states.

The university based its decision on careful review of recently updated CDC guidance and in consultation with medical and public health experts from the Kent City Health Department, the DeWeese Health Center and the school’s College of Public Health.

“We believe this change aligns with the CDC’s new recommended guidelines, which are based on high levels of immunity created by both vaccines and immunity from those who have recovered from the COVID-19 virus,” the letter states.

“Combined with the availability of effective treatments for the virus, we have confidence the potential strain on our healthcare system is now minimal.”

Masks will continue to be required in all healthcare facilities on all KSU campuses and locations.

The letter makes it clear that the university could again require indoor masking should a new, more severe COVID-19 variant emerge, or if local hospital systems become overwhelmed with cases.

The university system also will follow the CDC’s new recommendation that quarantining is no longer required for those who are exposed to someone with COVID-19 regardless of vaccination status.

“This means that residence hall students exposed as a close contact to someone with COVID-19 will no longer be required to move to a quarantine room,” the letter states. “Anyone who is exposed to COVID-19 should wear a well-fitting mask for 10 days, monitor themselves for symptoms of COVID-19 and get tested on day 6 after exposure.”

Isolation rooms for residential students will continue to be provided on the main campus for students who test positive for COVID-19. However, any student who tests negative on day 6, following five days of isolation and improved symptoms, will be allowed to return to their regular residence hall room provided they continue to wear a well-fitting mask around others through day 10.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.