Penn State will lift most masking requirements in university facilities for individuals who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 on June 28.
Non-vaccinated individuals, however, will be required to continue wearing masks inside university buildings after that date, according to a university release on Monday. It was not clear if or how that will be enforced.
Following Centers for Disease Control guidance, face coverings will still be required, regardless of vaccination status, on public transportation and in certain settings such as campus health care facilities.
Currently, the university requires all individuals, vaccinated or not, to wear masks inside campus buildings and for unvaccinated individuals to wear masks and maintain social distancing while outdoors on university property.
The Pennsylvania Department of Health updated its masking order on May 13 to reflect CDC guidance stating that fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear a face covering in most circumstances. Acting Secretary of Health Alison Beam subsequently announced last week that the statewide mandate would be lifted for non-vaccinated people as well on June 28 or when 70% of Pennsylvania’s adult population is fully vaccinated.
The DOH order and CDC guidance allow for municipalities, businesses and schools to maintain their own masking requirements.
While nearly all Centre County municipalities are now simply following the DOH guidance, Penn State is maintaining its masking rules through the last day of the first summer session.
“Penn State has continued to closely monitor the pandemic and carefully consider federal, state and local guidance,” Penn State President Eric Barron said in a statement. “Beginning the transition toward the end of June to align more closely with the CDC’s and Pennsylvania Department of Health’s guidance provides Penn State time to prepare, and give faculty, staff, students and visitors the opportunity to get their vaccinations now, if they have not already done so.
“I strongly urge everyone in our community to get immunized as soon as possible and to share their proof of vaccination with the University so we can better assess the vaccination rates across our population.”
As of now, the requirement for unvaccinated individuals to wear masks inside campus buildings will apply to Beaver Stadium and other athletic facilities, which the Penn State athletic department announced on Tuesday will allow full capacity in the fall.
The university also announced on Monday that students and employees who provide proof of vaccination can be entered into weekly prize drawings for $1,000 payments, gift cards and footballs signed by James Franklin.
Penn State officials have said they do not plan to mandate COVID-19 vaccines for students and employees and instead are focused on incentivizing getting vaccinated and making the vaccine as widely available as possible.