Changes to Our Mask Requirements

Dear Kent State University Students, Faculty and Staff,

Last Friday’s announcement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) allowing for a relaxation of our masking protocols caused many thoughts to cross my mind as I mulled this new guidance. Here is where my brain landed: This is our opportunity to live even more strongly our Flashes Take Care of Flashes commitment in our community.

The new CDC guidelines rank community levels of low, medium or high transmission based on three factors: the number of new hospitalizations for COVID-19 in a county, the percentage of hospital beds occupied by COVID-19 patients and the total number of new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 population over the prior seven days in the county.

As a result of this new methodology, every county in which Kent State currently operates a campus or location went from high alert levels in which mask-wearing is strongly advised to either a low (Portage, Columbiana, Stark, Summit and Tuscarawas) or medium (Ashtabula, Cuyahoga, Geauga and Trumbull) level for which the CDC no longer advises mask-wearing.

Recently, at Faculty Senate and at Strategic Plan review sessions across all our campuses, I have stressed that during the pandemic we have been guided by CDC recommendations, the advice of our College of Public Health professors and advice from state and local public health officials. We also discuss best practices with our colleagues at other state universities in Ohio. Our decisions, including this one, are based on all these factors.

Therefore, effective immediately, face masks will be required only for academic courses in classrooms, laboratories and studios, as well as in the DeWeese Health Center, in the Child Development Center and on all PARTA buses on the Kent Campus. Additional guidance from the university will follow shortly.

I encourage us all to be kind to one another as we undergo this transition in our face covering policy. Keep in mind that people still have plenty of good reasons to continue wearing a mask – they may have young children at home who cannot yet be vaccinated, they may be immunocompromised or they may live with someone who is – and those reasons should be respected. Wearing a KN95, N95 or medical-grade surgical mask has been shown to add protection against COVID-19 even when others around you are unmasked.

I am still not sure how I, personally, will approach mask-wearing for the rest of the semester. I am still uncomfortable with forgoing my mask in large, public indoor gatherings. It would feel odd to me, for example, not to wear a mask at an indoor sporting event on campus or even while shopping at the grocery store. Perhaps my thinking will change, especially if positive trends continue and as warmer weather arrives. I suspect you will mostly see me wearing a face covering indoors. Please know that I understand fully that others will behave differently, and I accept and honor your choices, as I know that you will honor and respect the decisions of others around you.

As always, I appreciate your patience as we navigate the changing waters of the COVID-19 pandemic and your dedication to our Flashes Take Care of Flashes commitment. 

Take care of yourself, take care of others and continue being a great Golden Flash.

Sincerely,

Todd Diacon
President

POSTED: Thursday, March 3, 2022 - 11:43am
UPDATED: Thursday, March 10, 2022 - 4:45am
WRITTEN BY:
President Todd Diacon