DENVER (KDVR) — Colleges and universities across the state are preparing to welcome students, faculty and staff back to campus after spending most of last school year away from the traditional college setting.
This year, each school has varying rules regarding masks, but most will have some sort of a vaccine mandate that aligns with guidance from Colorado’s Department of Higher Education.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment hasn’t released any guidance in regards to how institutions should treat the pandemic right now.
“Vaccines are the gateway to ending this pandemic, that is why we all need to do our part to get as many Coloradans vaccinated as possible,” said Governor Jared Polis. “That is why I expect that most higher education institutions will provide parents and students the peace of mind they want by making vaccines a requirement for next fall, and students want to get vaccinated so they can enjoy the full college experience.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has also issued guidance that doesn’t encourage mandates. Instead, the agency is encouraging administrators to “help protect students, faculty, and staff and slow the spread of COVID-19, by encouraging vaccinations.” They also encourage institutions to offer the vaccine to their patrons.
In regards to masks, the CDC has updated their guidance to strongly encourage masks for everyone in areas with a substantial or high risk of transmission which applies to most of Colorado.
COVID-19 rules for Colorado colleges and universities
- Auraria Higher Education Campus: Metropolitan State University, the University of Colorado Denver, and the Community College of Denver will require everyone, regardless of their vaccination status, to wear a mask indoors. The policy went into place on Aug. 9. Masks will not be required outdoors and vaccinated individuals may remove their masks if they are able to maintain six feet of social distancing.
- Colorado State University: CSU will require masks indoors for everyone, except if someone is in a place alone or for students who are in their own rooms inside of a residence hall. The school will also require all campus students, faculty, and staff to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Unvaccinated people can submit an exemption form, but even if it’s approved, they’ll still be required to get tested twice a week. Information must be updated by Aug. 15.
- Colorado School of Mines: According to the school’s website, masks are not required for people who are vaccinated. People who are not vaccinated or who are between doses are “strongly encouraged” to continue wearing masks in all public indoor spaces or in private offices and laboratories when others are present. Mines also has a vaccine requirement for all students, faculty and staff ahead of the fall semester. The requirement can be fulfilled by providing proof of vaccination or by submitting an exemption form. That requirement must be fulfilled by Aug. 23 when the semester starts.
- CU Boulder: Masks will be required in all indoor settings regardless of vaccination status on Aug. 13. Masks will not be required in spaces that are not publicly accessible. Students, staff and faculty will also be required to get the vaccine, which aligns with the decision to institute the requirement for the entire CU system that was made in April. Exemptions are available for some campus patrons. The deadline to complete the vaccine requirement process is Sept. 15.
- Regis University: School officials will require employees and students who are not fully vaccinated to wear a mask indoors on campus. Visitors and vendors will also be asked to wear a mask anywhere on campus unless they provide verification that they are fully vaccinated. All students, faculty and staff will be required to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Exemptions are available for some, including those who are fully remote. The requirement must be fulfilled by Aug. 23 when the academic year begins.
- U.S. Air Force Academy: All service members, cadets, federal employees, on-site contractors, and visitors, regardless of vaccination status, are required to wear masks in all indoor facilities at the Academy. The Academy also remains under Health Protection Condition level “B” which indicates a “substantial level of disease being spread.” HPCON means the school will continue to implement its mask mandate and restrict some in-person meetings. The school hasn’t announced anything about a specific vaccine requirement, but the Pentagon has said they will require all members of the U.S. military to get vaccinated by Sept. 15.
- University of Denver: The university is not requiring masks right now for anyone who is fully vaccinated. Anyone that is unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated must wear one in most indoor settings, while outdoors in a group of five or more people or while part of a larger event or assembly. They aren’t required if someone is alone in their office or for students who are alone in their residential room. The school does have a vaccine mandate that faculty, students, and staff must complete before returning to campus for the fall term. Exemptions are available.
- University of Northern Colorado: As of the last update on June 2, masks are not required indoors or outdoors on any of the school’s campuses. The school will be implementing a vaccine requirement that will go into effect on Aug. 15. Exemptions are available for some people and for students who are enrolled in online-exclusive programs. On-campus students who are granted an exemption may be subject to regular COVID-19 testing. The requirement must be fulfilled by Sept. 3.