UND to require masks, effective Monday, Aug. 23
University decision comes after Grand Forks Public Schools took the same path Friday.
UND has instituted a mask requirement for all campus indoor public spaces, effective Monday, Aug. 23.
The university made the announcement on its website Sunday, citing the increasing number of COVID-19 cases in Grand Forks. The county's transmission level is now in "red" status.
"To enable us to continue operating normally in the early days of this semester, UND will implement a mask requirement for indoor public spaces effective August 23," the statement on UND's website read Sunday.
Public spaces, as defined by the university for the purposes of the mask requirement, are:
- Open seating lounges
- Teaching laboratories
- Academic buildings
- Administrative buildings
- Chester Fritz Library
- Student Health Services
- University Children’s Learning Center
- Wilkerson Commons (except when eating)
- Memorial Union (except when eating)
However, the requirement is not in place in individual offices or private living spaces, according to the UND announcement.
UND is strongly encouraging masks in all other public spaces, including residence hall common areas, campus apartment common areas, the Wellness Center and athletic facilities. When meetings are scheduled in residence hall common areas, masks will be required.
In an email sent Sunday to the campus community, President Andrew Armacost said he has "developed the habit of having a mask or two with me at all times" and urged others to do the same.
"Widespread use of masks drastically reduces the number of people required to quarantine following a positive case of COVID-19, by state Department of Health policy," Armacost wrote in the email. "This simple step of wearing masks when we are in groups will blunt the impact of quarantines and allow us to most effectively continue our on-campus education."
Friday, the Grand Forks School Board declared a universal mask mandate for public school facilities in the community, also effective Monday. The board made the decision via an 8-1 vote, requiring masks for all individuals 2 years and older inside of, or at facilities leased by, Grand Forks Public Schools. Masks won't be required outdoors.
"The purpose of our work, day in and day out, is to educate and support our students, and the best environment for teaching and learning is within our schools. Without masks, we run the risk of quarantining high numbers of students and employees, an experience we had during the first semester last school year," Grand Forks Public Schools Superintendent Terry Brenner wrote in an email to staff and school families Friday.
Also last week, NDSU President Dean Bresciani made the announcement that masks will be required in classrooms on that campus, effective on the first day of classes. The mandate fell short of requiring masks in all indoor facilities, though masks will be "strongly recommended" inside buildings otherwise.
Armacost, in his Sunday email, also stressed the importance of getting vaccinated in an effort to slow the spread of coronavirus.
"Getting vaccinated continues to represent the fastest, safest, most effective way to return UND to the normal operating environment we all desire," he wrote. "Thank you for your understanding and patience as together we work through this latest challenge.