MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — If you or someone you know will be attending the University of South Alabama this fall, wearing masks inside the classroom will not be optional, regardless of your vaccination status.
Masks will also be required in other indoor areas where social distancing may not be possible. Masks will not be required outdoors, while actively eating or drinking, or inside hall rooms.
The college’s interim president, John Smith, says the COVID vaccine will be available at no cost through the USA Health vaccine site and other vaccine clinics on campus.
Read Smith’s full message he sent to students, faculty and staff on Tuesday, Aug. 3:
The University continues to prepare to welcome back students for fall semester. While the availability of a COVID-19 vaccine has allowed us greater flexibility in returning to in-person instruction and activities, we must take reasonable and responsible steps with the safety of our University community in mind.
In recent weeks, COVID-19-positive cases have risen sharply with the spread of the Delta variant, and while vaccination rates also have increased, they are far below what we need to help control virus spread. Therefore, we will start off the semester by requiring masks in classrooms and other instructional settings, and indoors where 6 feet of social distancing cannot be maintained. Masks also will be required on JagTran and other University vehicles, but will not be required while outdoors, actively eating or drinking, or inside residence hall rooms. USA Health will continue to operate under its own guidelines.
An email will be distributed later today by COVID-19 Response Coordinator Dr. Julie Estis detailing existing and updated guidelines. They take effect immediately.
The new masking requirement will be reviewed for its effectiveness and continued need on a weekly basis by the University Committee for Reopening Campus with the intention that it will be lifted as soon as possible.
While I understand wearing masks can be an inconvenience for some, the decision to require them for both unvaccinated and vaccinated people in certain circumstances has been made necessary by the Delta variant and our desire for a more traditional fall semester. It was done after careful consideration of current COVID-19 infection rates and hospitalizations in our region, input from USA Health physicians and infectious disease experts, and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Make no mistake: The vaccine is highly effective against serious illness and death from COVID-19, and it remains the easiest and best way out of this pandemic. The vaccine is available at no cost to you through USA Health, one of the many vaccine sites available or on-campus vaccine clinics.
Please make an appointment to get the vaccine if you haven’t already, or talk to your physician about any concerns you might have. Bringing infection rates down in our community is critical to our ability to move forward without disruptions. I’m looking forward to seeing our students back soon.