President White gives update on DePauw COVID-19 policies

Monday, August 9, 2021
President Lori White

In a message Monday to DePauw University students, faculty and staff, President Lori S. White outlined updates and revisions to the university’s masking policy.

“As the fall term quickly approaches, I am looking forward to welcoming our community back to campus or to campus for the first time,” White said. “Let us remember our priority to place the health of our students and our community at the forefront of our decisions as we once again find the need to pivot regarding our most recent communication regarding COVID-19 policies.

“Given the emerging information regarding the COVID-19 Delta variant, we believe these changes will enable us to start the term strong.”

Both students and employees are required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or request an exemption.

“While vaccines offer a high degree of individual protection against the virus,” White said, “recent data from the CDC illustrates that combining vaccination and masking indoors is more effective at preventing the spread of the virus, especially in cases of the Delta variant. As with all decisions surrounding our response to community living, learning and working during the ongoing pandemic, we will continue to re-evaluate each of our policies as necessary.

Changes and updates to current DePauw policies include:

-- Masking during move-in: All students, employees, guests and move-in helpers, regardless of vaccination status, will be required to mask indoors during move-in activities, including moving into residences. DePuw is also requiring masking for all participants and guests for the first-year student opening convocation and other indoor opening-day activities. A revised plan for convocation is under development.

-- Masking at large indoor gatherings: Effective immediately, masking will be required at all large indoor gatherings (50 or more) regardless of vaccination status.

-- Masking during classes and similar academic activities: Effective immediately, masking will be required during all classes, labs, studios and similar instructor-led activities that take place indoors regardless of vaccination status unless, for pedagogical reasons, an instructor decides that masks should be recommended and not required for vaccinated students. Faculty should note if masks will be recommended and not required, for vaccinated students, on their syllabus and students will always have the option to continue wearing masks.

-- Masking continues to be recommended but not required for all vaccinated individuals during co-curricular and extracurricular campus activities, including athletics, student organization meetings and events. DePauw athletics will be following NCAA guidelines regarding masking and testing.

In all indoor situations, masks remain required for unvaccinated individuals except when in the privacy of their own space. While many vaccinated individuals will also choose to wear masks even in situations where they are optional, no individual should be encouraged to remove a mask if they prefer to wear it.

The COVID Mitigation Team will once again be addressing the timely needs of campus related to the ongoing pandemic throughout the academic year. Members include Sarah Steinkamp, Scott Spiegelberg, Dorian Shager, Julia Proctor, Mariel Wilderson and Stevie Baker-Watson.

“It is my sincere hope,” President White concluded, “these mitigation strategies will be temporary and will set a strong foundation for the beginning of the term with a healthy campus. As vaccination rates increase on campus and in the community we will determine how soon we will be able to resume our previously communicated masking policy.”

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