“Beginning June 1, AU will operate as a fully open campus with no required masking,” read an email from President Pistole sent May 21. The message that students, faculty and staff have been waiting for was finally received after careful consideration by Pistole and the COVID-19 task force led by Dr. Sarah Neal.
Neal has been responsible for providing the AU community with free COVID-19 testing as well as access to the Moderna vaccine.
“We are so fortunate to have effective vaccines now that will let us return to as close to normal as absolutely possible, which is exactly what we heard consistently all year long from students, faculty and staff,” Neal said.
Neal explained that vaccination plays a significant role in the ability to return to “normal” in the fall.
“We know that when everybody is vaccinated, we can do normal…so our hope is that everybody will participate in getting that,” Neal said. “That provides the most safety for our campus and helps us also be responsible to the community around us.”
All campus activities will resume at normal capacity this fall, and athletics will continue to follow NCAA and CDC guidance.
“Our plan is that we won’t have to mask and that we can carry on operations as normal,” Neal said.
Unlike some other universities, AU is not requiring a vaccination to return to campus in the fall. Pistole’s email placed an emphasis on the expectation that students “will make the individual choice on how to protect themselves, their families and our campus community.”
Neal advocated for the vaccine, explaining, “When you take host bodies out of circulation the virus is going to start traveling in even smaller circles, increasing the likelihood that those people who haven’t been vaccinated are at a higher risk of getting infected.”
Neal added that if anyone has reservations or questions about the vaccine, they are welcome to reach out to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“I see it as my job to help educate and facilitate people to make good decisions, decisions that are right for them,” Neal said.