LARAMIE — Masks will no longer be required in most indoor spaces at the University of Wyoming effective Monday, February 21, following a vote today by the University of Wyoming Board of Trustees.
While supporting those who choose to wear masks anywhere on campus, the board voted that masks will only be required in campus offices when requested by the office occupant; for employees in UW’s Early Care and Education Center; and in medically related units. Masks also will continue to be required on UW Transit Service buses, in accordance with federal rules.
The medically related units include UW’s Student Health Service; UW Athletics’ medical clinic area; family medicine residency clinics in Casper and Cheyenne; the Albany Community Health Clinic in Laramie; the Speech and Hearing Clinic; the Psychology Clinic; the Counseling Center; and the COVID-19 testing area.
“We continue to recommend masks as a way to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in our community but, by action of the board, we are moving to a new phase in the pandemic that will not include a mask requirement in most indoor spaces, including classrooms,” UW President Ed Seidel said. “Those who choose to continue wearing masks have the board’s and the university’s full support.”
The board’s decision today followed its December vote to extend UW’s requirement for masks in most buildings where 6-foot social distancing isn’t possible until the February 16 meeting. Masks have not been required this academic year at voluntary public events such as athletics and music, theater and dance performances; voluntary social events; private, by-invitation events that involve rental and/or use of UW spaces on campus; and for patrons of Half Acre Recreation and Wellness Center when participating in recreational activities, sports or fitness.
As of Monday, there were 14 active cases of COVID-19 among the UW community — six students on campus, three students off campus and five employees. The prevalence rate in UW’s testing program — which continues with random-sample testing of 3 percent of on-campus employees and students each week — was 5.1 percent. As of last week, Albany County remained in the Wyoming Department of Health’s “high” transmission level category.
UW continues to strongly recommend COVID-19 vaccination and boosters, which have been proven to be highly effective and safe — and effective in preventing severe illness and hospitalization, even with the Omicron variant.
UW’s Student Health Service will hold a COVID-19 and flu vaccination clinic Friday, February 18, from 9-11 a.m. and 2-4 p.m.
“The COVID-19 vaccines and boosters are recommended, even for those who have had COVID-19, as people who have not been vaccinated are up to two times more likely to get COVID-19 again as those who have been vaccinated,” Student Health Service Director Mary Beth Bender said. “While COVID-19 infection does provide some natural immunity, the level of protection from prior infection is lower than the protection from COVID-19 vaccinations.”
Those who have had previous COVID-19 infections can receive a vaccine or booster as soon as they have passed their isolation period and are no longer acutely ill. Booster doses can be given as soon as five months after completing the primary Pfizer or Moderna series, or two months after receiving a Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
Flu vaccines also are strongly recommended for those who have not yet received one this year, as influenza is occurring throughout the state, including UW’s student population. The flu vaccine can be given at the same time as a COVID-19 vaccine or booster.
For those who are unable to schedule an appointment February 18, flu vaccines are available at any time during Student Health Service hours, while Moderna vaccines and boosters will be subject to availability.