Last week, Governor Holcomb announced some important changes to his Executive Order regarding the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The Governor’s amended order, which he issued yesterday, converts the current face mask covering mandate to a state mask advisory, effective April 6. But the Governor’s amended order still requires face coverings “in all state buildings and facilities,” and the amended order provides that businesses and other entities, such as educational institutions, can impose more stringent requirements than those contained in the amended Executive Order.
After the Governor announced the changes to his Executive Order, I asked TRUST, the representative committee that has informed the development and refinement of our health and safety protocols, to advise whether we should make any changes to our protocols. Based on the input from TRUST, I have decided that we will not make any changes to our protocols at this time. While I am encouraged by the low rate of infection among the members of our campus community, I think it is prudent for us to maintain our current protocols throughout the remainder of the Spring semester, including during our Commencement exercises in early May.
Accordingly, I ask you to continue to follow the student and employee protocols regarding face coverings and physical distancing. We will also continue to limit the size and nature of events on our campus.
I am increasingly optimistic, though, that we can soon begin our transition back to normal campus activities and events. Therefore, I have also asked TRUST to provide me with a proposed phased plan to safely bring all faculty and staff back to work on campus, with some limited exceptions. This plan will be grounded in our primary mission – to provide our students with the academic and co-curricular experiences that will empower them to have fulfilling careers and meaningful lives. I intend to present our plan to the Board of Trustees at the Board’s meeting on May 7, 2021.
In the meantime, there is one important step that you can do to assist us in a safe return to normal: you can get vaccinated. Today, everyone in Indiana who is at least 16 years old is eligible to make an appointment to be vaccinated. We are developing plans to incentivize all faculty, staff, and students to be vaccinated before the beginning of the Fall 2021 semester. Once we have completed those plans, I will share them with you.
But don’t wait. Please make your appointment as soon as possible. You can make an appointment online at ourshot.in.gov or by calling the state’s hotline at 211. If you receive your vaccination prior to the announcement of our plans, you will still be eligible for the incentives. And getting vaccinated promptly is one more way in which each one of us can protect ourselves, our colleagues, our friends, and our families.
Thank you very much for your support and for your cooperation.
Geoffrey S. Mearns
Ball State University