The upcoming fall semester at colleges across the state may not be as normal as initially expected.
The Auraria campus in Denver, home to three higher education institutions, reimplemented an on-campus mask mandate Friday as the Delta variant causes a surge in infections and hospitalizations among mostly unvaccinated people. They are the first higher education institutions in the state to reintroduce a mask mandate.
The leaders of the campus, the Community College of Denver, Metropolitan State University of Denver and University of Colorado Denver announced the renewed mask mandate in a joint statement. They said they’re bringing back mask orders due to updated CDC guidance for vaccinated people.
The mandate begins Monday and will continue indefinitely. Each institution will have varying guidance, but there are a handful of universal rules across the Auraria campus.
- Everyone on campus, including visitors and contractors, must wear a mask indoors regardless of vaccination status.
- Masks are not required outdoors.
- Employees in offices with a door may work mask-free when alone.
MSU and CU Denver both require students to get vaccinated before returning to campus in the fall. According to CU, 87 percent of its students have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, while 97 percent of employees who responded to a university survey have been vaccinated. MSU has not published their vaccination rates.
Auraria’s decision goes a step further than the guidance in Denver. Instead of following the CDC’s guidance for all people to mask up indoors regardless of vaccination status, Mayor Michael Hancock eased mask requirements. He issued a public health order requiring city employees, as well as private-sector workers in high-risk settings, be fully vaccinated by the end of September.
Meanwhile, K-12 schools are torn about requiring masks for the fall. Only a handful of school districts, including Colorado’s largest district, Denver Public Schools, have followed the advice of pediatric experts, who recommend masking for teachers, staff and students to protect unvaccinated children and those who are too young to be vaccinated.