University of Arkansas to require masks regardless of vaccination status

Fayetteville Flyer file photo

The University of Arkansas Board of Trustees on Wednesday approved a resolution directing each campus to implement face covering policies in indoor areas where physical distancing can’t be assured.

The directive states that the policies should apply to all students, faculty, staff and guests, regardless of a person’s vaccination status.

In a letter to the Fayetteville campus community on Wednesday, university officials said masks will be required effective immediately.

The policy includes limited exceptions, such as in dining areas when eating and drinking, in private offices and residence hall rooms.

“This goes for everyone, whether you have been vaccinated or not (though we continue to encourage everyone to get vaccinated),” according to the letter, which was written by Acting Chancellor Bill Kincaid and Provost Charles Robinson.

The resolution also states that the policies will include exceptions approved by external governing bodies such as athletics conferences and the NCAA.

Kincaid and Robinson said mask usage is important as thousands of students are preparing to return to campus, but vaccines are highly encouraged.

“Again, while masks are a valuable tool, the most effective way to stay healthy is still this: please get vaccinated,” they said in their letter.

The university earlier this week announced a vaccination incentive program for students with prizes to encourage vaccinations this semester. Prizes include $500 scholarships, parking credits, bookstore and dining gift cards, football tickets, backpacking and canoe trips, and vouchers to upcoming performances.

The board’s decision comes after over 35 schools or districts across the state implemented some type of mask mandate for the upcoming school year, including Fayetteville, Springdale, Bentonville, Prairie Grove, Farmington and Haas Hall Academy.

School and city face covering requirements became possible in Arkansas after a judge temporarily blocked the state from enforcing its ban on mask mandates.