The University of Delaware has announced it is going to require students and staff to wear masks in all indoor spaces as of 8 a.m. Tuesday.
The move comes during commencement week as the Class of 2022 rocks its graduation traditions.
“This is a special time of year with many celebratory events as we mark the end of the academic year at UD, including commencement and convocations, so it’s important that we all take every step possible to safeguard the health of ourselves and those around us,” a university press release said.
“This means wearing a face mask indoors, getting tested and staying home when you are sick. The masking requirement applies to everyone regardless of vaccination status or past testing results.”
The announcement said face masks must be worn indoors except when actively eating or drinking, the school said. This requirement applies to all UD-sponsored events, no matter the location on or off campus, as well as all indoor facilities, including residence halls, libraries, classrooms and other public/common spaces.
Many of the graduation events, such as convocations, are indoors.
Classroom and/or presentation speakers may remove their masks while presenting as long as they are more than six feet from others in attendance. Masks also continue to be required on all campus shuttles and University transportation services, as well as health care clinics.
COVID-19 cases have begun to climb in Delaware, with new cases up to a seven-day average of 576 on Monday, according to the state. The Delaware Division of Public Health also said that 20% of tests are positive.
That does not count positive tests people receive at home and never go get a test that is officially reported to the state.
Both the numbers of new cases and higher positive testing percentages have risen dramatically in the last month. On April 22, there were only 130 new cases per day.
The rise concerns health officials who want to limit the spread of the virus, but also because it can affect business operations with employees required to quarantine at home when they have been exposed to people who have tested positive.
UD is recommending students and staff wear KN95 masks. They are available on campus.
Members of the University community also can pick up home antigen test kits at various campus locations. UD asked anyone who tested positive to upload it to the UD Health Portal.
The school also said COVID PCR testing is available from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. through Thursday at the Harker ISE Lab.
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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