ATHENS, Ohio (WCMH) — Masks are making their return to Ohio University.
A spokeswoman confirmed that all students, staff and visitors will be required to wear masks indoors starting Monday.
The decision falls in line with Centers for Disease Control guidelines, which recommend requiring masks in counties it labels with a high spread of COVID-19. The only exceptions would be for the Eastern Campus in Belmont County and the Lancaster Campus in Fairfield County.
Ohio as a whole reported nearly 30,000 new cases of the virus in the past week. The CDC map for county-by-county COVID-19 presence showed it spreading the most — colored in orange — in the southern half of the state, Athens County included. Belmont and Fairfield counties are still in the yellow, meaning they only have a medium spread of COVID-19.
Ohio University’s mask policy shifts the college back to requiring them when Athens County gets that orange label. Only certain parts of Ohio University, like on-campus healthcare facilities, still require them when the area is marked for medium or low spread.
Ohio University’s website indicates Monday, Aug. 22 as the first day of the fall semester. Because the mask policy is based on constantly updated, live COVID-19 data from health officials, it is not clear if the mask requirement will last into the school year when campus activities ramp up again.
Ohio State University has yet to provide new guidance publicly on masks for its students and faculty. The CDC marked Franklin County as having a high spread of COVID-19 as of Friday, but the college’s last update on May 3 only mentions a voluntary testing program for the summer.
OSU’s mask policy page does say they are required in healthcare settings like the Wexner Medical Center and COVID-19 testing sites. However, they are optional in classrooms, residence halls and public events at the Schottenstein and Covelli centers as of March 8.