Coronavirus: Wittenberg requires masks, Clark State to strongly recommend them

College officials encourage people to get vaccinated.

Wittenberg University is requiring everyone to wear face coverings, while Clark State College is strongly recommending them as coronavirus cases increase.

Wittenberg announced that everyone will have to wear masks indoors. Officials said their decision was based on “changing conditions, CDC recommendations, and in consultation with the medical professional on the COVID Response TEAM, as well as public health officials.”

“Everyone, whether vaccinated or not, is required to wear face coverings in all indoor spaces at Wittenberg University,” the COVID Response Team said in a release. “This requirement applies to all students, faculty, staff, and visitors regardless of vaccination status.”

Clark State officials said they will follow the CDC recommendations, and have been consistent with doing so.

“The CDC and our local public health officials currently strongly recommend masks to be worn in public and indoor settings,” said Dr. Matt Franz, Senior Vice President of Technology, Safety, and Strategic Initiatives.

“Clark State has been consistent with following all state and local guidelines and requirements and we maintain a very close partnership with our local public health officials and health experts. Our current policy is consistent with all of the available guidelines set forth by those groups,” Franz added.

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At Wittenberg, officials set other rules surrounding face coverings. The COVID Response Team said face coverings are:

  • Required in academic, classroom, studio, lab, and related spaces, and all dining facilities when not actively eating or drinking
  • Not required when alone in a non-shared workspace
  • Not required in residential spaces, but they are encouraged to be worn in communal spaces of the residential facilities
  • Required in the HWA (Health, Wellness & Athletics Complex) unless actively engaged in physical activity or alone in a non-shared workspace
  • Required when driving or riding in a vehicle with others on official university business and activities.

Wittenberg said the “key to ending this pandemic” is getting everyone vaccinated.

“Members of the COVID-19 Response Team highly recommend that all students, faculty, and staff to get vaccinated. The vaccines are remarkably effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalization, and death,” the response team said.

To help get more people vaccinated, the university will offer vaccine clinics for students and employees from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Aug. 27 and Sept. 17 in Shouvlin where the Pfizer vaccine will be available.

“The Delta variant is affecting younger people far more than the original viral strain and is fast becoming a pandemic of the unvaccinated. In order to help close this most challenging chapter and protect our community, I strongly urge everyone to get fully vaccinated immediately,” said Dr. Laurice Moore, current COVID Response Team member and a pediatrician.

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At Clark State, Franz said they encouraging vaccines and are not requiring students to disclose their vaccine status.

“We are highly encouraging them to become vaccinated and are supporting them in every way,” he said.

“We have worked closely with faculty and staff on classroom protocols to maximize individual health and safety. Aspects of that plan may include physical distancing, continued frequent cleaning and sanitization, robust contact tracing, information campaigns, and more. We are working towards flexibility to support student needs while balancing their health and safety in and out of the classroom,” Franz added.

Sophie Gustafson, a nursing student at Clark State College, gives Mikhaela Cando a COVID vaccine injection at a clinic on the Leffel Lane campus in April. The college is encouraging vaccines, but not requesting students to disclose their vaccine status. BILL LACKEY/STAFF
Caption
Sophie Gustafson, a nursing student at Clark State College, gives Mikhaela Cando a COVID vaccine injection at a clinic on the Leffel Lane campus in April. The college is encouraging vaccines, but not requesting students to disclose their vaccine status. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

Most colleges and universities in the region are strongly recommending vaccines. Public colleges and universities are not able to mandate students get vaccines, due to a recent Ohio law passed that forbids them from doing so. The law takes effect in October and does not apply to private higher educational institutions or to hospitals associated with any university or college.

Other colleges that will require masks include Sinclair Community College, the University of Dayton, Wright State University and The Ohio State University. Cedarville University is a college that said they do not plan to require masks or social distancing on campus at this time. Wright State officials also said they would require those living on campus to be tested if they show symptoms, regardless of vaccinations status.