Ohio State to reinstate indoor mask mandate as COVID-19 cases rise

Sheridan Hendrix
The Columbus Dispatch
Friends Jessica DeSena, right, a Columbus senior, and Camden Coggburn, left, a Columbus junior, sit outside Thompson Library during the first day of fall classes at Ohio State University last fall. Last year, students wore masks across campus and were reminded to socially distance to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Ohio State will require all students, faculty, staff and visitors on its campuses and medical facilities to wear masks indoors, regardless of their vaccination status, President Kristina M. Johnson announced Monday afternoon.

In an email to the campus community, Johnson said Ohio State is updating its mask protocols immediately to reflect the update guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

COVID in Ohio:What COVID-19 guidelines can you expect on Ohio's college campuses this fall?

"Throughout the pandemic, Ohio State has adapted its actions based on new information and expertise from local, state and federal health officials as well as our own medical and public health experts," Johnson said. "We will continue to follow this approach as we prepare for a robust, in-person experience in the upcoming academic year."

Masks are still required outdoors for unvaccinated individuals when they cannot maintain physical distancing. Vaccinated people are not required to mask outdoors.

University spokesperson Ben Johnson said masks will not be required in Ohio Stadium for Saturday's commencement ceremony, but they will be required in the Schottenstein Center for Sunday's graduation. "Alumni participating in Saturday’s ceremony will line up inside the RPAC and so will need a mask for that portion of the event," he said.

As cases continue to rise across Ohio due to the highly contagious Delta variant, Franklin County and five other counties in central Ohio have jumped to the second-highest level on the CDC's COVID-19 transmission map. 

Coronavirus in Ohio:6 central Ohio counties jump to second-highest level on CDC COVID map: What it means for you

Last week, the CDC changed its masking guidelines to recommend both vaccinated and unvaccinated people wear masks in public indoor settings in areas of substantial or high transmission. 

Ohio reported 895 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday.