Dear Wake Forest community,

As the first day of classes for the majority of campus nears, we write to share both our enthusiasm for the start of this semester and a few important updates to our COVID-19 response. We will be fully in-person and operating all aspects of the University with the trademark dedication to our mission. The adjustments we will share below reflect our commitment to that end and to ensuring a successful start to the year.

As a residential community founded on the teacher-scholar model, we thrive on meaningful connection with one another animated by close collaboration among students, faculty and staff — collaboration that is at its best when it is in person. Our high vaccination rate among faculty, staff and students is the most important step for returning to and maintaining normal operations during the fall semester. While our position is strong, the most recent information regarding transmission of the Delta variant requires some temporary modifications.

Indoor masks to begin the semester

We will start the semester with all of us, regardless of vaccination status, wearing a mask indoors, with exceptions that are defined below. We anticipate this will be a temporary measure to allow for a smooth transition back to the classroom and campus environment. We will evaluate this decision weekly and make adjustments accordingly. Beginning Monday, August 16, masks are required indoors except while actively eating and drinking and with the following exceptions:

  • Students who provided proof of vaccination may remove masks when in residence halls.
    Note: Due to the presence of families with unknown vaccination status in the residence halls, we encourage our students to wear masks during hours that the building is open to visitors for move-in.
  • Anyone alone in a private office may remove their mask.
  • Faculty and staff who have provided proof of vaccination may continue to remove masks in private shared workspaces.
    Note: Private shared workspaces above refers to areas where a supervisor is aware that all colleagues occupying the work space have been approved by Human Resources to be unmasked. Examples of a private shared workspace include small conference rooms, research labs and offices shared by two or more people reporting to the same supervisor.
  • Masks are required in all classrooms.
    Note: Faculty who provided proof of vaccination may opt to remove their masks when teaching or presenting if they are able to remain at least 10 feet from the audience. Classrooms will not be set up or assigned to accommodate any further distancing from the presenter than currently exists in the assigned space. The Provost’s Office will provide further information about classroom guidelines.
  • Students who received a medical or religious exemption will remain masked in all indoor settings except when in their personal residence hall room.
  • All visitors to campus will continue to wear masks indoors until further notice.
  • Masks are not required for anyone in outdoor settings.

Individuals may choose to wear masks for a variety of personal reasons. Please respect their privacy regarding these choices.

It is important that we acknowledge that, based on the science and data available to us, our greatest risk does not come from within our own University community. We believe our high rate of vaccination and low likelihood of transmission among vaccinated individuals creates a well-protected campus environment for the semester. With the arrival of students from all across the nation and world, and with a resurgence of community transmission in the region, this additional step of mask wearing adds a valuable layer of protection as we resume our residential and academic activities. With this temporary modification, we anticipate delivering on the University mission without further mitigations. 

We continue to strongly encourage all members of our community to wear a mask when visiting public indoor places off campus. Please continue to follow the most recent CDC guidance. These are steps we can take toward being the caring, inclusive community we aspire to be.  

A comprehensive update with detailed protocols for the fall semester will be available by Monday, August 16 on Our Way Forward.

We are grateful for your patience as the pandemic continues to test us all. We are also thankful for the leadership of so many on this campus who have helped create the conditions that make us ready for a vibrant and full fall semester.

We look forward to seeing you on campus.

Susan R. Wente, Ph.D.

Hof Milam
Executive Vice President

Rogan Kersh