Guidance for University-sponsored Indoor Events with Speakers Removing Their Mask

By Daniel DiPrinzio | December 8, 2021

Dear Faculty and Staff,

To clarify the University Health and Safety guidelines, specifically about whether a speaker at an event can remove their mask when speaking to an audience indoors, the COVID Leadership discussed how an approval process for exceptions to University guidelines and processes for events could be structured.

Recommendation: The following criteria will incorporate consideration of the current campus environment, surrounding environment, and county, state, and CDC guidance. Criteria will be updated as conditions change. If the sponsor of a University event requests an exemption to the Health and Safety policy and/or current University requirements, the COVID Events Taskforce will consider these criteria during the event approval process. The Taskforce might ask the event organizer for additional information and/or pose questions to the COVID Planning and Intelligence subcommittee to gain clarity before they decide whether to approve the request for an exemption.

The criteria listed below will be considered by the COVID Events task force:

  • One-time event in the following locations: Kuch Alumni Gymnasium, Stiteler Auditorium, University Great Room, Little Theater, Steel Building, Castle Rose and Mirror rooms with a limit of 20 attendees, Dining Hall 107. 
  • Removal of masks would not be approved for standing meetings, classes, or other repeating events. Note that an event, such as a Theater production, could be presented as a limited series of performances and could be approved for unmasking.
  • Speaker remains at least 6-12 feet away from the audience when unmasked and does not walk into the audience. 
  • If more than one speaker is participating in the event, they must remain 6-12 feet apart from one another and from the audience while unmasked.
  • The event speaker must show proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative PCR COVID test conducted within the past 72 hours or Rapid Antigen test conducted within the past 24 hours of the event. (If the event organizer is not comfortable collecting this information, they can speak with their supervisor about that person taking on the responsibility.)
  • No food or drink may be served at the event while the speaker is unmasked. 

Criteria will be updated as campus COVID conditions change.
The COVID Events Task Force, with the support of COVID Leadership and Planning and Intelligence groups, can provide exceptions to the criteria described above as needed.