Miami University among area schools staying with optional student masking - for now

—With the start of fall classes at Miami University approaching officials at the school are for now staying with their recommended masks policy while indoors but acknowledge fluctuations in pandemic infection levels may force a stricter future policy.

Ohio State University continues to have a recommended masking policy for incoming students as does the University of Cincinnati, with the exemption of students who will be attending classes at the College of Medicine.

Xavier University is also encouraging students to wear masks when they return to campus.

Miami officials will see freshmen begin to move into campus residence halls Aug. 18 with classes for all students starting on Aug. 22 at the school’s main Oxford campus and its regional schools in Hamilton and Middletown.

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Butler County is currently at a high-risk level for infection rates.

Miami students are required to be vaccinated for COVID-19 before the start of the school year.

School officials said they have learned from previous years of operating during the COVID-19 pandemic that flexibility in mask policies is key.

A recorded video message for students on COVID-19 was released to students earlier this week and during it Miami Vice President for Student Life, Jayne Brownell, said: “Here we are coming into a semester where honestly we were hoping to not be thinking about Covid anymore.”

“But Covid is still very much still with us.”

“Covid keeps changing and so do our plans,” she said noting Miami’s various shifting policies since the onset of the pandemic in March 2020.

“But our trend over time has been to lessen our restrictions,” referring to periodic mandatory student and staff mask orders in past years during flare ups of infection rates.

Once students return to campus, those who contract the virus will be required to wear masks and will maintain communications with school health personnel until they test negative.

School officials also stated in information sent to students that “if we experienced a spike of illness on campus among employees or students, or if there were a new, more serious variant, it is possible we would need to temporarily adjust our approach to ensure continued campus operations.”

“We do not anticipate needing that action, but we have all learned that we cannot predict every possibility for the future. Additionally, Miami asks members of our community to honor an individual’s request to wear a mask in their space such as a classroom, lab, residence hall room, office, etc., as a courtesy,” said officials.

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