Masks required for all at Wichita State, inside Koch Arena

Charles Koch Arena will be an early voting site.
Charles Koch Arena will be an early voting site.(KWCH 12)
Published: Oct. 25, 2021 at 4:22 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - If you’re employed, enrolled or just visiting Wichita State University, you’ll be required to wear a mask, starting today (Monday, Oct. 25). Last week, Wichita State University President Rick Muma said the latest masking and physical distancing requirement is in compliance with federal guidelines that took effect Monday. This includes events inside Charles Koch Arena. The Wichita State men’s basketball team kicks off its 2021-22 season with an exhibition game next Monday, Nov 1. At that game, fans will be required to wear masks, regardless of vaccination status.

MONDAY 📺 The new mask mandate at Wichita State University requires masks both indoors and outdoors starting this week....

Posted by Lily Wu on Tuesday, October 26, 2021

With those guidelines, it was also announced that Wichita State, Kansas State University and the University of Kansas are requiring all of their employees to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Dec. 8. This announcement came after the Board of Regents determined that an executive order from President Joe Biden applies to universities that work on federal contracts.

With the latest mandate on masks and social distancing, Wichita State said, “Absent an exemption, all individuals on campus – employees, students and visitors – regardless of vaccination status, will be required to wear masks and physically distance (to the extent required in the order). This includes indoor and outdoor spaces, classrooms, labs and social events.”

In a “General FAQ” on the executive order behind the mandate, the university provided specific guidance for those who are vaccinated and those who are not:

  • “All students and visitors who are vaccinated and in WSU facilities are required to wear a mask at all times while inside those WSU facilities (unless granted an exemption).”
  • “All students and visitors who are not fully vaccinated and in WSU facilities are required to wear a mask at all times while inside those WSU facilities. Individuals who are not fully vaccinated must also wear a mask in crowded outdoor settings or during outdoor activities that involve sustained close contact with other people who are not fully vaccinated, consistent with CDC guidance.”
  • “The CDC provides exceptions to this mask requirement (a) when an individual is alone in an office with floor to ceiling walls and a closed door; (b) for a limited time when eating or drinking and maintaining appropriate distancing; (c) when engaging in activities in which a mask may get wet; (d) when engaging in high intensity activities where individuals are unable to wear a mask because of difficulty breathing; or (e) when activities for which wearing a mask would create a risk to workplace health, safety, or job duty as determined by a workplace risk assessment. Any such exceptions must be approved in writing by a duly authorized representative of the covered contractor to ensure compliance with the order.

The new mandate at Wichita State comes 70 days after students began the fall semester. Eyewitness News spoke with students Monday, asking how they feel about the new requirements.

Student Joshua Patterson said masks have already been required in the classroom and the mandate is “certainly better than going all virtual.”

Student Nicholas Harmon did express disagreement with at least part of the mandate as spelled out in the university’s guidelines.

“I kind of feel it’s excessive to have a mask mandate outside when it has been a long time since the semester started,” he said. “We’ve been doing pretty much fine. I got vaccinated to not have to war a mask. It’s excessive.”

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