[caption id="attachment_212877" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] The University of Delaware announced it would reinstate the indoor mask mandate, days before commencement. | DBT PHOTO BY JACOB OWENS[/caption]
NEWARK — The University of Delaware has reinstated its indoor mask mandate, effective this morning, in light of the rising COVID-19 case counts.The mandate was announced late Monday and went into effect as of 8 a.m. on May 24.Masks must be worn indoors at all UD-sponsored events no matter the location or off-campus, except when actively eating or drinking. Classrooms and speakers may remove their masks while presenting as long as they are more than six feet from others in attendance. Masks are still required on all campus shuttles as well as health care clinics.“This is a special time of year with many celebratory events as we mark the end of the academic year at UD, including commencement and convocations, so it’s important that we all take every step possible to safeguard the health of ourselves and those around us,” UD President Dennis Assanis wrote in an open letter to the university. “This means wearing a face mask indoors, getting tested and staying home when you are sick. The masking requirement applies to everyone regardless of vaccination status or past testing results.”UD recommends students, faculty and staff wear KN95 masks and have made them available to all at the residence halls, the library, student centers as well as the Carpenter Sports Building. Those picking up a mask at these locations will need to show valid UD Identification. Faculty and staff can get masks from their individual departments or units.The university also offers PCR tests for students and staff between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. this week through Thursday, on a registration basis.The shift in policy comes after weeks of COVID-19 cases steadily rising in the state and across the country. Delaware has a seven-day average of 576 new cases, as of May 24. On April 24 — a month earlier — the state reported 169 new cases.There are 139 people hospitalized, with 14 in critical condition, according to the state’s COVID-19 website.President Joe Biden, a UD alum, will be giving the keynote speech at the university’s commencement, which will be held outdoors on May 28. It is estimated that 4,000 graduates will attend, with approximately 16,000 family and friends in the audience. The ceremony will also be livestreamed.