University of Alabama reinstates indoor mask rule, regardless of vaccination status

Staff report

The University of Alabama has reinstated its indoor mask rule, effective Friday.

According to a message sent Thursday to faculty, staff and students, UA will require face coverings indoors for everyone on campus, regardless of whether they are vaccinated or unvaccinated.  

UA said the indoor mask rule was reinstated to "further protect the fall 2021 semester." The message also cited the increase in COVID-19 cases and recent guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The mask rule is intended to be temporary and will be reviewed after the first two weeks of classes, according to UA. Classes begin Aug. 18, but some students began moving in this week.

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The rule means that, starting Friday, people must wear masks in UA's classrooms and classroom buildings, regardless of distancing. The rule also covers on-campus transportation and personal meeting spaces, as well as meetings with faculty and advisers and gatherings in common spaces, such as student centers.

Exceptions to the mask rule include indoor areas where people use social distancing, when people are alone in offices and private workspaces, in residence hall rooms and while eating, drinking or exercising. Teachers who practice distancing and are instructing while behind plexiglass also would be exempt.

Dr. Ricky Friend, dean of the College of Community Health Sciences, urged all members of the UA community to get vaccinated. 

“Vaccinations are the key to a successful fall semester and the key to moving beyond these types of requirements,” Friend said. “Everyone is strongly encouraged to be vaccinated. Data continue to show the vaccines provide very strong protection against serious illness and hospitalization.”

UA has an online link where students, faculty and staff can schedule an appointment to receive a vaccination. Students can receive $20 in Bama Cash, which can be spent at a variety of businesses on and off campus.

“Our vaccine numbers among faculty and staff are strong – the percentage vaccinated more than doubles the statewide number," Friend said. "We are still learning about students who were vaccinated over the summer and will be offering expanded opportunities for vaccination as classes approach. Again, vaccination is key.”