UM updates COVID guidelines as infection slows and vaccination rates increase

Jennifer Liu receives a dose of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine at a county-supported pop up site at Homestead Air Reserve Park on March 31, 2021.
Jennifer Liu receives a dose of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine at a county-supported pop up site at Homestead Air Reserve Park on March 31, 2021. Photo credit: Jared Lennon

The University of Miami announced that outdoor mask mandates on the Coral Gables and marine campuses have been suspended in an email to the UM community Friday, claiming low rates of COVID-19 infection on campus and high vaccination rates among students have reduced the need for masks outdoors.

“The updated COVID-19 protocols are a sign of improvement with students and staff and a step towards normalcy,” freshman biology major Sarika Alan-Schwartz said. “I worry that because we are taking this step, we may have to eventually revert back to outdoor mask mandates, because the spread will initiate again.”

Masking is still highly recommended in large group gatherings, UM communications said in the Oct. 1 memo to the UM community.

Indoor masking will remain mandatory at the university in accordance with CDC guidelines. Indoor spaces include classrooms, libraries, lobbies, elevators, labs, shared laundry rooms and retail and dining locations. Any student who does not follow the university’s mask policies may be subject to the student conduct process, the university said.

In tandem with the university’s masking policy, the university said it will maintain its surveillance testing protocols. According to the announcement, in order to prevent widespread COVID-19 transmission and ensure the safety of the community, any student who is not fully vaccinated or has not provided proof of vaccination is required to take a COVID-19 test twice a week.

Students who do not comply with the testing instructions of the university will be referred to the dean of students office and may face disciplinary action, the university said.

“Students are strongly encouraged to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to safeguard their health and the health of all members of our University and South Florida communities,” the university said.

Employees with an approved vaccination exemption must test a minimum of one time per week. Employees who do not comply with the testing requirements will be referred to Human Resources or Faculty Affairs.

Any student who is fully vaccinated and has provided proof of vaccination to the university through their MyUHealthChart account is exempt from COVID-19 surveillance testing.

Fully vaccinated students enrolled in classes this semester are still eligible to receive prizes through the institution’s Voluntary COVID-19 Vaccine Incentive Program, university communications said, after uploading a copy of their COVID-19 Vaccination record card to their MyUHealthChart account.

Additional information regarding UM’s COVID-19 guidelines including testing locations and hours of operation can be found at coronavirus.miami.edu.