August 2, 2021

Dear Members of the University Community and Visitors to Campus,

Last week, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) updated its recommendations around masking due to the spread of the Delta variant—which is markedly more transmissible than earlier strains of the COVID-19 virus. 

Now, the CDC recommends that both fully vaccinated and unvaccinated people wear masks indoors when in areas with “substantial” or “high” transmission of COVID-19. Three counties constitute our area of concern and, according to the CDC, Franklin, Marion, and Grundy counties currently meet those conditions.

Based on that guidance, the University is updating its masking policy.

  • Effective tomorrow, Aug. 3, 2021, and until further notice, all students, employees, and visitors must wear face coverings/masks over their nose and mouth when they are in public spaces inside all University buildings. While outdoors, masks are not required unless otherwise indicated by the University.

A set of answers to frequently asked questions about the masking policy is available. (Additional FAQs are here.) You can also review the University’s COVID-19 website for the latest information on the University's policies and procedures.

While this is not the way any of us wanted to begin the new academic year, the University is taking this action now in order to help prevent potential outbreaks that may affect our plans to deliver an on-campus experience that is close to the pre-pandemic norm.

The key to ending this pandemic is for as many people as possible to get vaccinated. The University urges everyone who has not yet been vaccinated to do so at your earliest opportunity to help protect yourself and your loved ones. The University’s Public Health Office and University Health Service are available to help answer your questions or concerns, and to help members of our community find vaccinations. You can also find a vaccination location at

We are grateful for your continued cooperation and personal commitment to help keep one another as safe as possible during this ongoing pandemic. Together, we will navigate this situation successfully.


Nancy Berner, Provost

Erica Howard, Dean of Students–College of Arts and Sciences

Deborah Jackson, Dean of Students–School of Theology

Mary Wilson, Director of Human Resources