ETSU lifts face mask requirement

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JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) — East Tennessee State University will no longer require face masks for those fully vaccinated for COVID-19, but will continue to recommend them for those not fully vaccinated yet.

The university announced it was lifting its emergency COVID-19 policy on face coverings effective immediately in an email Monday to the ETSU community.

Face coverings will continue to required in some locations, including all ETSU Health clinical sites.

The university also encouraged all members of the ETSU community to get vaccinated.

Dear ETSU Community,

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, East Tennessee State University has followed guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to inform our decision-making process in regards to restrictions, recommendations and other changes to university operations. This approach has yielded encouraging results in keeping ETSU and our communities safe as evidenced by the low COVID-19 incidence rates we experienced across campus during the past year.

Given the recent recommendations released by the CDC last Thursday, we announce that effective immediately, ETSU is lifting its emergency COVID-19 policy on face coverings that was put into place last year. In continued accordance with CDC guidelines, students, faculty, staff and visitors to the university who have been fully vaccinated (two weeks past their final vaccine dose) are not required to wear face coverings, and also are not required to observe physical distancing. As noted by the CDC, persons who have not been fully vaccinated should continue wearing face coverings and following physical distancing guidelines.

Any member of the university community who has been fully vaccinated but wishes to continue wearing a face covering is encouraged to do so and we ask that you provide a supportive culture for those who continue this practice. While our face covering requirements are being lifted for persons who have been fully vaccinated, face coverings will continue to be required in some locations, including all of our ETSU Health clinical sites, which is also consistent with CDC recommendations. In addition, University School will continue to operate within its current COVID-19 guidelines. Individuals should not ask a person’s COVID-19 vaccination status or use information about a person’s vaccination status to make decisions about participating in classroom or workplace activities.

We continue to strongly encourage all members of the ETSU community to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. ETSU Health will be offering the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine this week on May 19, 20, and 21 from 2:30-4:30 p.m. on the second floor of the D.P. Culp Student Center. No appointments are required. In addition, more information about vaccination opportunities is available at Vaccines.gov or through our partners at Ballad Health.

In closing, we want to thank you for your continued patience throughout the past fifteen months. We recognize that today’s announcement presents new questions, and in the upcoming days we will update our Bucs Are Back website as well as other campus signage. Again, we appreciate your patience as the campus strives to safely navigate this fluid and complex landscape.

ETSU President Brian Noland and Quillen College VP for Clinical Affairs Bill Brock

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