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COVID-19, Delta Variant

Dear Campus Community:

Orange County is currently experiencing a surge in new COVID-19 infections, prompting a change in status this week to the “high risk” category. This spike is being driven primarily by the number of unvaccinated people and by incidents of the Delta variant.

As we know, the Delta variant is highly contagious, and is circulating quickly among the unvaccinated. The County’s positivity rate, which had been on the decline, has nearly doubled in the past week. Unvaccinated groups, including eligible individuals who haven’t received it, as well as children under 12 who aren’t yet eligible for vaccines, combined with increased numbers of visitors to Central Florida for summer vacations, prompted Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings this week to again strongly encourage mask wearing in crowded indoor spaces.

We again highly recommend those who have not yet received the vaccine to get it before returning to campus this fall. Vaccines are widely available, and each person who returns to campus vaccinated is doing their part to help keep our community safe. In order to complete a successful year in-person, we all need to care for each other by doing our part to lessen the threat of COVID-19 on our campus by achieving a fully vaccinated campus.

It is also important to note that vaccinated individuals can also contract COVID with generally less severe symptoms. Knowing this, we reiterate that mask wearing will be required in all indoor spaces, including classrooms, for all students, staff, faculty and visitors, regardless of vaccination status, with the following exceptions:

  • If you are working alone in a private office or lab, you do not need to wear your mask.
  • If you regularly work with a group of 2 to 5 individuals, and everyone has been fully vaccinated and is willing to share that information, your group may work together without masks.
  • By September 3, if 80 percent of our campus is fully vaccinated, we will no longer require masks indoors, noting that individuals with health concerns should consult with their health care provider before electing to not wear a mask.

While this resurgence of cases is disheartening, we know what we need to do. You can follow our progress on vaccinations here. If you would like to learn more about what’s happening in Central Florida, you can visit the Florida Department of Health’s COVID-19 Response website, which features a weekly report of COVID-19 data for both Orange County and the state of the Florida.

If you have concerns about the vaccine, please visit this CDC site to learn more.

Fiat Lux!

Provost Susan Singer