Latest CDC Mask Announcement Impacts Campus Rec

mask announcement

Campus recreation professionals respond to the latest CDC mask announcement.

On May 13, 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), issued updated guidance stating that fully vaccinated individuals no longer need to wear a mask or physically distance in most indoor and outdoor settings.

According to the CDC, fully vaccinated people can now “resume activities without wearing masks or physically distancing, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance.”

Jeff Huskey, the assistant dean of wellness and the director of Recreation at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB), said this has been a hot topic.

“Although it is an extremely positive sign we may be in the home stretch of COVID-19, this guidance causes many short-term challenges,” said Huskey. “Specifically, our state, county and university have stricter guidelines in place right now. Participants read this mask announcement from the CDC — or just read the headline — and think they can use our spaces without a face covering. That is not the case and probably will not be for some time on our campus.”

Monica Verity, the director of Recreation at Wellesley College, shared she doesn’t think this will have an immediate impact on the industry. In fact, the college’s president announced there is no way to effectively enforce the CDC’s guidance on campus. As such, no changes will be made until after the end of the academic year.

“There is a possibility things might change in the future, but for us there is too much unknown about vaccinations and keeping the community safe. I don’t see a very quick change to policies,” said Verity. “We have a lot of work to hash out over the next couple of months before reopening in September with a full residential campus again.”

Huskey also noted that UCSB has to figure out how to operationalize the mask announcement. “Although about 60% of residents in our county have received the vaccine, that still leaves 40% who have not,” he said. “How do you tell those people apart?”

He mentioned the possibility of a digital badge system, but that takes time to develop. Plus, he noted they can’t just limit access to only those with a vaccine. That is discrimination against those who may never get the vaccine for medical or religious reasons.

All in all, the CDC mask announcement has sent the industry into a tailspin of what to do in response. “This new statement from the CDC just made our staff’s job that much harder,” said Huskey.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

Heather Hartmann is the editor for Campus Rec Magazine. She can be reached at heather@peakemedia.com.

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