Ready & Resilient update on upcoming changes to mask and distancing policies

This update includes details about changes to university policies for face coverings and physical distancing that will go into effect on June 1.

Dear Members of the Elon Community,

The transition to wearing masks, distancing, testing, and limiting social circles was disruptive and created anxiety for many of us. Shifting to the next phase of the pandemic, with eased restrictions, may also be unsettling for some.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the state of North Carolina, signaling movement into the next phase of the pandemic, have now removed restrictions for masking and distancing for those who are fully vaccinated. CDC Director Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky confirmed these changes reflect research on the effectiveness of the vaccines to protect the vaccinated from becoming infected with serious illness or becoming a virus carrier, as well as enhanced understanding of how the virus spreads indoors.

We now know that:

  1. The risk of vaccinated people contracting a breakthrough or symptomatic case of the virus is minimal.
  2. Vaccinated people are no longer at risk of transmitting the virus to others.

As the CDC has shared, “fully vaccinated people can resume activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing,” except where required by laws or workplace rules.

Masks, Distancing, Vaccines and Ventilation

The CDC and North Carolina announcements lay the groundwork for shifts in campus policies related to masking and distancing. Therefore, today we announce the following:

  • Effective Monday, June 1, those who are vaccinated, and are comfortable with removing masks, will no longer be required to wear masks or maintain physical distancing while indoors, with the following exceptions:
    • Academic Deans will work with faculty teaching in-person classes this summer, to ensure initial class sessions include wearing masks, in order to review course guidelines, etc.
    • By state law, due to the fact that most children are not vaccinated or eligible to be vaccinated yet, summer camps involving children will still require masks.
  • Beginning this Wednesday, May 26, to prepare for the June 1 policy shift, those who are vaccinated may begin removing masks indoors when in small groups with others who are vaccinated.
  • Those not vaccinated are still required to wear masks indoors at all times and to complete regular testing.
  • In order to avoid disruption at the end of term, the School of Law will continue its current requirement regarding wearing masks indoors through the end of finals, June 15, 2021.
  • The School of Health Sciences will transition to single classrooms on June 1, 2021 and begin the summer session wearing masks during classes and lab sessions.
  • Earlier in May, the R&R Committee made recommendations regarding the importance of the COVID-19 vaccine in supporting a fuller return to Elon’s relationship-driven, engaged learning model. The University is reviewing issues related to requiring students to be vaccinated and will release a decision in the coming weeks.
  • As mentioned in the April 8 email from Kelli Shuman, temporary pandemic-related policies, including the staff pandemic leave option for reporting time and leave, conclude May 31, 2021.
  • At this time, we will continue to maintain high levels of ventilation within buildings and do not expect making changes to plexiglass that has been installed on campus.

Care for Each Other in this Transition

While we encourage groups and offices to begin meeting in person (without masks for those vaccinated) starting June 1, we encourage all departments and offices to begin conversations immediately about how to manage these changes.

We ask everyone to understand that each individual has different experiences, family and medical situations, and feelings as we navigate this process. While all who are not vaccinated will continue to be required to wear masks and test regularly, some who are vaccinated may choose to continue masking and testing.

Please show care and respect in the weeks ahead and as we work together to become comfortable with meeting in person, without masks and without distancing. We suggest departments and units begin this transition slowly, allowing vaccinated participants to become comfortable removing masks and reducing distancing in smaller groups over time, as opposed to quickly shifting to a large group gathering or a gathering in cramped quarters.

Planning, Design, and Construction Management; Registrar’s Office; Physical Plant; and Event Management are working to ensure fall classes are assigned to rooms that can accommodate full rosters without over-crowding and to return surge spaces to meeting rooms over the summer.

We will continue to share information about campus operations and policies throughout the summer as necessary. Thank you for your attention as we plan for fall semester, and please take time for yourself to enjoy a healthy, safe and restful summer break.

The Ready & Resilient Committee

  • Jeff Stein, Vice President for Strategic Initiatives and Assistant Professor of English (Chair)
  • Dan Anderson, Vice President of University Communications
  • Ginette Archinal, Medical Director of Student Health and University Physician
  • MarQuita Barker, Assistant Dean of Campus Life and Director of Residence Life
  • John Barnhill, Associate Vice President for University Advancement
  • Tom Flood, Assistant Vice President of Physical Plant
  • Jason Husser, Associate Professor of Political Science and Policy Studies, and Director of the Elon Poll (Academic Council Representative)
  • Deandra Little, Assistant Provost, Director of the Center for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning and Professor of English
  • Paul Miller, Assistant Provost for Academic Operations and Communications and Professor of Exercise Science
  • Kelly Reimer, Director of Teaching and Learning Technologies (Staff Council Representative)
  • Carrie Ryan, Director of Auxiliary Services
  • Kelli Shuman, Associate Vice President for Human Resources & Chief Human Resources Officer
  • Gabie Smith, Dean of Elon College, the College of Arts and Sciences and Professor of Psychology
  • Mary Southern, Project Manager for Provost and Academic Affairs Operations (Project Manager)
  • Mike Ward, Deputy Director of Athletics
  • Randy Williams, Vice President and Associate Provost for Inclusive Excellence and Assistant Professor of Education