Dear OSU Community Members,

On Tuesday, July 27, 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its COVID-19 guidance, recommending that both unvaccinated and fully vaccinated people wear a face covering in public indoor settings in places where there is substantial or high COVID-19 transmission. The Oregon Health Authority announced a similar recommendation for face covering use in public indoor settings throughout the state.

These recommendations are prompted by a significant recent rise in COVID-19 cases, the increased spread of the highly contagious Delta variant, and evidence that fully vaccinated individuals who become infected may be able to spread the virus even while experiencing mild to no symptoms themselves.

This new guidance does not change or alter OSU’s Pathway to Fall strategy and plans for fall term. However, OSU joins the CDC and OHA in recommending the use of face coverings in public indoor university settings in areas of the state where there is a high degree of COVID-19 transmission.

Public indoor settings at OSU include university-owned or controlled property, or property in which OSU activities are held, that are open to the public and could create higher exposure to the virus. Examples:

  • Classrooms;
  • Dining centers;
  • Recreation centers;
  • Indoor sports venues;
  • Conference and event centers and spaces;
  • Service centers, front desks, and offices with frequent engagement with OSU community members or the public.

Generally, public indoor settings do not include university workspaces and spaces within residence halls that do not have high frequency or recurring visitations by the public, and where individuals are not exposed to others who are not a regular part of their daily indoor activity. Individuals should use their good judgement in determining whether to wear a face covering.

Should public health conditions worsen, the university may require the use of face coverings in spaces listed above, and potentially other spaces. A decision to require face coverings in public indoor settings will be based on case counts (the CDC’s current metric), hospitalizations, available hospital capacity, the severity of symptoms experienced locally, and/or state mandates.

OSU’s Framework on Face Coverings, based on OHA and CDC guidance, is now available and additional information can be found in the university’s COVID-19 Safety and Success Policy. Please note that additional guidance from the CDC on exposure has been added to OSU’s policy.

We understand that determining what spaces within the university are indoor public spaces is subject to different interpretations. We ask that unit leaders and managers discuss with their employees the type of activity that occurs in workspaces to help assess where face coverings are recommended. Please review these FAQ’s to assist in that determination.

In closing, please know that these current recommendations offered by OSU, the CDC, and OHA are not face covering mandates. We appreciate your help in following these recommendations, which will enable our communities to disrupt this distressing national trend of increased COVID-19 cases. OSU will continue to work with the health authority in each county in which we are located as we determine if any changes in recommendations or requirements are needed. 

Thank you,

Dan Larson
Coronavirus Response Coordinator
Vice Provost for Student Affairs

July 29, 2021