The University of Delaware is asking students, staff and faculty to wear masks for the first two weeks of school to try to avoid a start-of-term COVID-19 surge.
The university also announced Thursday that an employee had been diagnosed with monkeypox, was isolating at home and that the person and the university were working with the state Division of Public Health to notify people who had been in contact with the employee.
Other colleges, including Georgetown University, also are requiring masks for fall semesters.
Those on UD’s campus will be required to wear facemasks in all classrooms, research laboratories and UD transportation from Aug. 30 through Sept. 9, a UD announcement said.
“We want to be as proactive as possible to start the semester keeping the health of our UD community a top priority,” the announcement said.
The highly transmissible BA.5 Omicron variant of COVID continues to spread across the country.
“We know from campus experience over the past two and a half years that COVID-19 cases tend to surge at the beginning of each semester, largely due to the sharp increase in campus density as students arrive at UD from various locations around the United States and the world,” the announcement said. “These surges are fairly short lived (1-2 weeks) and are typically not replicated until the next semester.”
Instructors and presenters may remove their masks during active instruction or presenting if they are more than six feet away from others, the announcement said.
“The intent of this measure is to help reduce the transmission of COVID associated with the rapid density increase on campus, while preserving as much academic continuity as possible,” it said. “Masks continue to be required in all healthcare and clinical spaces, as well as the Children’s Campus.”
KN95 masks and surgical masks will be available at residence hall check-ins. They also will be available at Morris Library, Carpenter Sports Building, Perkins Student Center, Trabant University Center and STAR Health Science Complex (North entrance).
Any member of the UD community may choose to wear a mask at any time in all campus settings, the announcement said.
“We appreciate everyone’s patience during this two-week period to help us all move forward with a productive, healthy and enjoyable fall semester,” the announcement said.
Betsy Price is a Wilmington freelance writer who has 40 years of experience, including 15 at The News Journal in Delaware.
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