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OU chief COVID officer announces indoor masking requirement for all students, faculty, staff, visitors at all campuses

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Dale Bratzler

Dr. Dale Bratzler of OU Medicine was named chief COVID officer for the university on June 8.

OU Chief COVID Officer Dr. Dale Bratzler announced in a Thursday statement OU is implementing university-wide indoor masking, effective immediately.

Bratzler said masking applies to faculty, staff, students and campus visitors at all three OU campuses. He said mask-wearing alone is “shown to reduce the spread of the virus by 85 percent.”

“We have a tremendous opportunity to take personal responsibility to do those things that we know to be highly effective at preventing person-to-person transmission of the virus — wearing a mask, observing distancing of at least six feet between individuals and practicing good hand hygiene,” Bratzler said in the statement.

According to the mask policy for Norman’s campus, all individuals in indoor facilities must wear a fabric or disposable surgical-style mask covering their nose and mouth. Bandanas and scarves are not acceptable masks.

All passengers must wear masks in university-provided transportation, and drivers must wear masks when passengers are in the vehicle. Individuals may remove their masks “only if they are in their own enclosed private workspace with no one else present or in their dorm room.”

Masking requirements for special and sporting events will be determined by Bratzler and OU administration before the date of the event. Masking decisions will be determined by the location and size of the event, current COVID-19 data and the advice of public health and medical experts.

Fabric and disposable masks will be provided to faculty in a “Welcome Back” bag, which also includes hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes. Students will also be provided masks, though the university said distribution details are forthcoming.

Individuals may remove masks while inside if they are in an enclosed room or while participating in activities in which a mask cannot practically be worn, such as eating, drinking, playing a musical instrument or singing as part of their work or academic assignment.

While students may remove their masks in their dorm rooms, they are “strongly encouraged” to wear masks particularly when others are present, unless participating in activities in which a mask cannot be practically worn — such as those listed above — as well as bathing and sleeping, according to the policy.

If a student experiences COVID-19 symptoms, they must complete the online Screening and Reporting Tool immediately and wear a mask in their dorm room while waiting for test results from Student Health Services.

If compliance with the mask policy is not possible due to medical reasons, the student should be referred to the Accessibility and Disability Resource Center to request an accommodation.

If a student chooses to bring a guest to campus, students must inform their guests of the university’s masking policies and advise their guests to bring their own masks.

Visitors, vendors and contractors must wear masks and are asked to bring their own. Until further notice, masks may be obtained at the OU Police Department at 2775 Monitor Ave.

“All of us should take pride in knowing that we are helping reduce transmission through this practice,” Bratzler said in the statement. “Please encourage all those you see not wearing masks to wear a mask for others so that together, we can slow the spread.”

Beth Wallis is a senior journalism major and political science minor, and news managing editor for The Daily. Previously, she worked as a junior news reporter covering university research.

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