Masks are back: SU returns to level ‘Blue’ masking status

Masks are back: SU returns to level "Blue" masking status

Due to a recent uptick in COVID-19 cases on campus, SU announced it will require masks again starting Tuesday during academic instruction, regardless of vaccination status.
Published: April 18, 2022 | Updated: April 21st, 2022 at 10:03 am
Students attend their IST 195 class socially distanced and masked in fall 2020 in Carrier Dome.
Students attend their IST 195 class socially distanced and masked in the Carrier Dome during the Spring 2021 semester.

With less than four weeks remaining in the spring semester, SU announced Monday morning in an email it will be upgrading its masking status to level “Blue” starting Tuesday, April 19 due to a recent uptick in COVID-19 cases on campus.

According to J. Michael Haynie, Vice Chancellor for Strategic Initiatives and Innovation, the decision comes as cases rise both nationally and in Onondaga County.

“As we approach the end of year activities, including final projects and exams, and Commencement exercises, it is important that we take reasonable action to minimize the impact of COVID infections on academic outcomes and experiences,” Hayne wrote in a campus-wide email.

Under level “Blue”, all students, staff and faculty who are vaccinated and fully boosted are required to wear masks at all times during academic instruction, during some non-academic events and in certain facilities, as determined by a public health risk assessment. Masks are strongly recommended for vaccinated individuals, both indoors on campus and outdoors in the presence of others.

For vaccine-exempt individuals or those that have not received a booster yet, masks are required at all times and in all facilities indoors on campus, as well as outdoors when in the presence of others.

SU said this decision was made due to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendation to expand indoor masking mandates in Onondaga and Oswego Counties, as well as right other counties across Central New York. The uptick in cases is likely due to sub-variants of the Omicron strain of the virus which were first identified in Onondaga County several weeks ago.

Although there is no evidence the new variants do not cause heightened levels of illness among vaccinated individuals, it does appear to be more contagious.

The email stated because of the University’s high vaccination rate, the increase in cases has not resulted in heightened levels of symptomatic illness among the campus community. However, because New York State’s public health law requires a five-day isolation period for those who test positive, the increase in positive cases and “associated class absences has increasingly disrupted the academic experience.”

The email also shared resources available to students, faculty and staff, including free on-demand COVID-19 testing at the Kimmel Dining Center, and access to health services and advice from the Barnes Center. It also reiterated that students should stay home if they are experiencing any COVID-related symptoms.

“We will continue to monitor current conditions and refine our guidelines based on the most up-to-date data, science and public health guidance. We appreciate your continued cooperation and ongoing commitment to maintaining a safe and healthy campus community,” the email said.

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is a Magazine, News, and Digital Journalism and Political Science senior and one of the Lead News Producers for The NewsHouse.