Miami University announced it would tie its mask requirement to Butler County transmission levels. Currently, students are not required to wear masks in class unless asked by the instructor.
The announcement came in an email sent by the COVID-19 Response Team on Wednesday, March 9.
“As cases continue to decline locally and across the country, we are continuing to update our policies to match CDC guidelines,” the COVID-19 Response Team wrote. “Moving forward, our masking requirement will match the CDC’s community risk level for Butler County.”
The risk assessment is divided into three color-coded categories: high risk (red), medium risk (yellow) and low risk (green).
“This week’s status is ‘low risk’ and masks are no longer required indoors in most settings campus-wide,” the COVID-19 Response Team wrote. “However, some faculty and staff may continue to request that others wear a mask in individual classrooms, research labs or offices.”
For a high risk status, Miami will require masks at all indoor locations on campus, and for a medium risk status, “masks are required in classrooms during instruction and recommended indoors elsewhere.”
The community risk level will be updated each Wednesday.
“We will alert students of the status each Wednesday in the COVID weekly email and on the COVID-19 Campus Updates website,” Jessica Rivinius, senior director of News and Communication, wrote in an email to The Miami Student. “The status is effective Wednesday through Wednesday. So, today’s status will be in effect until next week’s message/announcement.”
The email came just one week after Miami announced it will only require masks “in classrooms during instruction, laboratory or other research settings, and in healthcare settings.”
The COVID-19 Response Team wrote the university will no longer maintain the COVID-19 Dashboard, but suggested students remain aware of cases in Butler County.
“We encourage you to visit the CDC COVID-19 Community Levels Dashboard (which notes community risk) and the Butler County COVID-19 Dashboard (which notes community transmission rates) to see up-to-date statistics for our local community,” the email read.
According to the Butler County COVID-19 Dashboard, released on March 4, the county had a positivity rate of 5.5%.
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Although the university won’t maintain the dashboard, Rivinius wrote voluntary surveillance testing will continue.
“The program is voluntary, but participation is highly encouraged as it will help individuals monitor their own health, take care of the community, and provide us with important data for assessment and planning purposes,” Rivinius wrote.
The university recognized that not every student will be comfortable with the new mask regulations, and encourages students to wear a mask if they prefer.
“People have different levels of comfort regarding risk and masks, and it may take some time for some of us to feel comfortable taking our masks off,” Rivinius wrote. “I hope as a Miami community, we can respect that others may make different choices.”
Students can get a free KN95 mask from the university by emailing COVID19@miamioh.edu.