Dr. Goerl discusses masking, vaccine requirements for fall semester

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(Illustration by Abigail Compton | Collegian Media Group)

Although restriction phaseout is expected to begin in August, it remains uncertain what exactly will be required for disease mitigation on campus in the fall semester. During an Instagram Live Q&A session on Monday, Dr. Kyle Goerl, medical director at Lafene Health Center, offered a few clarifications on what the future may hold.

Vaccine requirements

Other schools, some of them private schools, have announced they will require vaccines for students who live on campus or any local student, but Goerl said Kansas State is not currently considering a COVID-19 vaccination requirement for the fall 2021 semester.

“That is not a part of our plan,” Goerl said. “At this point in time, that’s not a part of K-State’s response.”

That being said, K-State will still offer vaccine opportunities and ask students to get vaccinated.

“We are strongly encouraging you to get the vaccine,” Goerl said. “It certainly benefits campus health as well as community health as a whole.”

The three vaccines in the U.S. given emergency use authorization are the Moderna and Pfizer mRNA vaccines and the Johnson and Johnson vector vaccine. Authorization required completion of clinical trials and data showing efficacy as well as overall safety.

“Really the time is now — the best time is now to get vaccinated,” Goerl said.

In the state of Kansas, anyone over the age of 16 is eligible to get the vaccine. The most recent data — from the week of April 12 — indicates that roughly 5,700 people were vaccinated at Lafene.

Masking and other mitigation requirements

Goerl said on Monday that it’s too soon to tell if face coverings will be required on campus in the fall, but the possibility isn’t totally off the table.

“That’s a little bit to be determined,” Goerl said. “Where masks fit into that is going to depend largely upon a number of factors.”

Those factors include the situation with more transmissible variants, general COVID-19 statistics, the rate of vaccination and other variables. Right now, the specifics of the COVID-19 prevention protocols, such as masking, gathering size limits and social distancing, aren’t set in stone.

“If we’ve learned anything through COVID, it’s that this changes, and it can change quickly,” Goerl said.

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My name is Kaylie McLaughlin and I'm the managing editor and audience engagement manager of the Collegian. Previously, I've been the editor-in-chief and the news editor. In the past, I have also contributed to the Royal Purple Yearbook and KKSU-TV. Off-campus, you can find my bylines in the Wichita Eagle, the Shawnee Mission Post and KSNT News. I grew up just outside of Kansas City in Shawnee, Kansas. I’m a senior in digital journalism with a minor in French and a secondary focus in international and area studies. As a third-generation K-Stater, I bleed purple and my goal is to serve the Wildcat community with accurate coverage.