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AU, sister schools drop mask mandate for those who are vaccinated

Updated: May. 18, 2021 at 8:35 AM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Augusta University and other schools in the University System of Georgia will be lifting their mask requirements after a policy update from state higher-education leaders.

Following updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the university system says fully vaccinated individuals can resume campus classes and other activities without wearing a mask.

Unvaccinated individuals are strongly encouraged to continue wearing a face covering while inside campus facilities.

AU representatives confirmed to News 12 that they’d be following the new policy. In addition to AU, the university system includes East Georgia State College in Swainsboro.

What’s allowed, what’s not?

Here’s a summary of the guidance planned for fall 2021, unless otherwise noted, and subject to change:

  • Fully vaccinated individuals can resume campus classes and other activities without physically distancing. Unvaccinated individuals are strongly encouraged to continue socially distancing from others when possible. Summer courses may continue to observe appropriate levels of social distancing as determined by the institution.
  • Alternate work arrangements or accommodations granted to employees for fall 2020 or spring 2021 due to increased risk for severe illness with COVID-19 will end no later than June 30, 2021. All employees are expected to return to their previous work arrangement at that time. Current summer teaching assignments are excluded from this transition deadline. Lack of vaccination is not grounds for a request for an accommodation.
  • Alternate educational arrangements or accommodations granted to students for fall 2020 or spring 2021 due to increased risk for severe illness with COVID-19 will end no later than June 30, 2021. All students are expected to return to their traditional educational arrangement beginning fall 2021 semester. Lack of vaccination is not grounds for a request for an accommodation.
  • With limited exceptions, employees with current CIVID-19 related telework assignments should begin transitioning back to their pre-Covid-19 work arrangements and all such arrangements will end no later than June 30, 2021. Pursuant to USG policy, department heads or their designees have the authority to establish teleworking arrangements. In no circumstance should telework be considered an employee right or entitlement. All telework requests and designations are based upon management discretion and in accordance with determination of what best serves the institution and students.
  • USG institutions will continue to ensure vaccine availability to faculty, staff, and students either through vaccination opportunities on campus or in partnership with a local provider. Institutions are not responsible for assessing current COVID-19 vaccination rates for their institution.
  • Institutions are expected to resume traditional student life activities beginning fall 2021. Mitigation practices as recommended by state health officials should be practiced and observed during these activities.
  • Each institution should follow the most recent executive order from the governor related to events and gatherings.
  • USG will follow the state government position on travel. As of May 2021, a non-essential travel ban remains in place. Each institution is expected to make decisions on what is considered essential travel based on their mission and priorities.
  • Institutions should follow their athletic conference guidelines for COVID-19. Institutions not affiliated with a conference should develop guidelines appropriate for their institution and its athletes.

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