A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

CPE president applauds mask requirements; colleges, universities mandate face coverings


President Aaron Thompson, head of the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education, is praising the widespread efforts on campuses to protect health by requiring face masks in classrooms and at most public gatherings.

Kentucky’s public two- and four-year institutions have all implemented policies in recent weeks that will mandate the use of masks during the fall 2020 semester. The policies are consistent with Gov. Andy Beshear’s Heathy at Work initiative, which seeks to limit the spread of COVID-19 as the Kentucky economy continues moving forward.

Aaron Thompson

“CPE unequivocally supports the use of face masks, and I want to thank our colleges and universities for showing tremendous leadership on this issue – and during this time of crisis,” Thompson said. “Campuses have made a uniform commitment to prioritize health and safety as we kick off the new academic year, and we hope all areas of our state and economy will embrace a similar stance.

“Furthermore, I want to praise our campuses for confronting this year’s challenges with forethought, innovation and compassion,” Thompson added. “Whether it’s helping to research and develop new health interventions or training our workforce for a new generation of jobs, campuses have underscored their critical role in our communities and in our fight against COVID-19.”

According to state estimates, more than 36,000 Kentuckians have contracted the virus this year, leading to nearly 800 deaths. However, research has shown that masks, when used correctly, can significantly cut the risk of transmission.

CPE issued guidance to institutions in May emphasizing the need to follow state and federal health protocols in their individual restart plans. It called on campuses to not only enforce the use of masks but also improve access to coverings for students and employees.

Institutions are allowing exceptions for students and employees when a mask could create safety hazards for those with underlying medical conditions.

One campus, Northern Kentucky University, said it is reinforcing health messages with the “Norse Nine,” an easy-to-remember list of principles that will ensure a safe and responsible campus environment.

“The health, safety and wellbeing of our campus community is our top priority,” said NKU President Ashish Vaidya. “Northern Kentucky University requires that faculty, staff, students, vendors, volunteers and visitors wear masks while present on campus. We believe that wearing one is the best way to protect each other, and along with proper hand hygiene, social distancing and daily health monitoring, will minimize the risk of spreading the virus.

“We are providing free masks for our students, faculty and staff, so they can all have a role in keeping our campus healthy.”

From Council on Postsecondary Education


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