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University of Utah will require masks after statewide mandate expires

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SALT LAKE CITY — The University of Utah will still require facemasks on campus until the end of the spring semester, even after the statewide mandate expires Saturday. A decision on whether masks will be required in the fall will be made in the coming months. 

The administration decided to continue mask-wearing on campus during its townhall meeting March 31. School officials said they made the decision after considering public health guidance from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention and the University of Utah Health. 

“We recognize the question on everyone’s mind is, ‘Can we do this safely?'” the school said in a statement. “Our top priority has been and continues to be the health and safety of our students, staff and faculty.”

University of Utah to require masks until end of spring semester 

Although Utah is administering tens of thousands of vaccines every day — with a total of more than 1.6 million people vaccinated as of Thursday — the university said masks will help to protect those who haven’t been inoculated yet. Masks will also decrease the chance of vaccinated individuals potentially transmitting the coronavirus to someone who has not been vaccinated. 

“Vaccination is proving highly effective in preventing severe COVID-19, hospitalization and death from coronavirus,” the school said. “Accordingly, we need to continue face coverings at the University of Utah until all members of our campus community who seek vaccination have had the opportunity to receive one.”

The college publicly encouraged all students and staff to get the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as they are able to — citing the importance of reaching “herd immunity.” 

Depending on how the vaccine rollout continues through the summer, the university may rescind the mask requirement for the fall semester. 

“While much can change between now and the end of August, we believe that with careful planning and adherence to the best practices listed below we can have both safe and successful summer programs and a fall semester,” the school said.