University announces return of indoor mask mandate

Administrators explained that a host of factors, including the dangers posed by the delta variant, are responsible for the temporary policy


Alexandra Karlinchak, Editor-in-Chief

Wake Forest students will be required to wear masks indoors, regardless of their vaccination status. This news broke in an email from administrators mid-afternoon on Thursday. 

This fall semester will look very different than last, however. This semester, the mask mandate is temporary, and the necessity for fully vaccinated students to wear masks will be evaluated weekly.

Additionally, only unvaccinated students, faculty and staff will be required to participate in weekly, asymptomatic COVID-19 testing. 

In an exclusive meeting with Old Gold & Black editors, administrators acknowledged that some students may feel frustrated with the shifting policy. 

Even with 97% of the student and academic faculty vaccinated on campus, growing infection rates across the country have caused institutions to re-evaluate COVID-19 policies for the coming academic year. 

VP of University Advancement Mark Petersen cited the increase of delta variant infections, the movement of students from all areas of the country, high Forsyth County COVID-19 transmission rates and the robust social scene that comes at the beginning of the semester as several of the reasons behind the temporary mask policy. 

“We do not want to cancel events or student experiences that make this campus truly come to life,” Petersen said.

Wente and Petersen explained that this temporary mask requirement only applies to indoor settings such as classes, the gym, and other public settings. Residence halls, football games, soccer games, quad picnics, walking to class and any other outdoor activities will allow vaccinated students to congregate without wearing masks. 

In Thursday’s email, students were reminded that visitors must be masked on campus, regardless of vaccination status.

Additionally, the email communicated that masks may be worn for a variety of personal reasons. The message requests all students and faculty to be mindful of this and respect the privacy of those who elect to wear masks outdoors or in residence halls.

“Our leadership team has never stopped thinking, ‘How do we have the most successful semester possible,’” President Susan Wente said. “We learned what worked and what did not work last year, and Wake Forest is in an incredibly strong position.”

Wente made clear that the preventative measures that the leadership team are taking this fall are in no way similar to the strict lock-down procedures of last fall. 

“We are confident and assured, but aware and flexible,” Wente said. “We need to move forward and find a way to say ‘yes.’”