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University of Hawaii system loosens COVID-related requirements

Article and photo by Christopher Bednar

The University of Hawaii 10-campus system is entering a new phase of the pandemic as COVID-19 related restrictions begin to ease.

The newly revised Personal Safety Practices on the UH webpage outlines the new COVID-19 standards for students, employees, and visitors. With less regulation by the college campuses, the responsibility has largely shifted from the institution, to now the individuals.

Perhaps most notable is the change regarding vaccines, which are no longer mandatory for students as of March 26. The same is true for students who received medical or religious exemptions for vaccination, as they are no longer required to provide a negative test result in order to come on campus.

This shift mirrors the tone set by the state, when Gov. David Ige announced that the indoor mask mandate would be lifted at 11:59 p.m. on March 25, after being in place for nearly two years. The university’s change in policy is based on recommendations set forth by the UH COVID-19 Health and Wellbeing Working Group, and is a direct result of the efficacy of vaccines and booster shots, which have helped to greatly reduce the number of cases, and limit the severity of infections when they do occur.

While face masks are still required in the classroom, shared laboratories, instructional spaces, and educational spaces such as advising offices, they will no longer be mandatory when outdoors, in any capacity. Instructors and presenters may remove their masks when speaking, given that they maintain six feet of distance from others. Essentially, masks are only required in spaces that are necessitated by one’s studies. This means that a place such as Uluwehi Cafe can be entered without a face mask.

Daily check-ins conducted on the LumiSight UH health app will additionally no longer be required. This means that at the time of this article’s writing, use of LumiSight UH will not be required for any reason.

Students living in residence halls, however, are still expected to take COVID-19 tests. If a positive test is yielded, students must stay home and isolate for at least five days. Following this minimum five day isolation period, face masks must be worn around others for the remainder of the 10-day period.

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