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Following Douglas Co. decision to drop mask mandate, KU follows suit with phase-out approach

Published: Mar. 3, 2022 at 10:41 AM CST
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LAWRENCE, Kan. (WIBW) - After Douglas County’s decision to drop its own mask mandate, the University of Kansas has decided to follow suit and phase out its indoor mask policy.

After the Douglas County Commission’s decision to let the current countywide mask mandate expire as planned on Wednesday, March 2, the University of Kansas says it will follow suit.

KU said the county’s decision reflects the dramatic improvement in the region’s COVID numbers. It said case rates and hospitalizations continue to fall and the county is no longer considered an area of high transmission by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The University said it will start to phase out its indoor mask mandate on both the Lawrence and Edwards campuses effective at 5 p.m. on Thursday, March 3. The new mask policy is as follows:

  • Masks will continue to be required in classrooms
  • Masks are no longer required in non-classroom settings like libraries, dining halls, research labs, hallways, athletics facilities, offices, meeting rooms and similar areas
  • The only non-classroom settings in which masks will still be required are Watkins Health Center, childcare facilities and campus buses

The new policy does mean that masks will not be required for fans who attend the Jayhawks’ final two regular-season basketball games - at 7 p.m. on Thursday night, March 3, against the TCU Horned Frogs, and at 3 p.m. on Saturday, March 5, against Texas.

While KU said it realizes the move will be an adjustment for some, it has decided to take a phased approach starting with non-classrooms to help students and faculty acclimate.

Looking ahead, the University said it expects to remove the classroom mask mandate following Spring break.

While the mask mandate will start to be phased out, KU said individuals should continue to wear their masks as they see fit.

“The pandemic has taught us we should expect the unexpected, and if conditions take a turn in the wrong direction, we will adjust as we have in the past,” said Chancellor Doug Girod. “With that said, given the continued decline in COVID case rates and hospitalizations in our region, now is the appropriate time to begin phasing out our mask mandate.”

KU said vaccines and testing are key reasons it has been able to move away from masks. If students, faculty or staff have not yet been vaccinated or boosted, it has encouraged them to do so.

COVID-19 vaccines and testing are available to KU students, faculty and staff at Watkins Health Care Center for free, as well as pharmacies and clinics across the region.

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