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The emergence and proliferation of the available COVID-19 vaccines has caused the University System of Georgia (USG) to update its guidance regarding face masks on its 26 campuses, including Georgia College.

The governing body for the state’s public colleges and universities said last month that individuals who have been vaccinated are no longer required to wear masks or distance themselves from others while on school grounds. That decision came on the heels of a similar announcement from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in the middle of May. 

Unvaccinated individuals, meanwhile, are being asked — but not mandated — to continue wearing masks and distancing from others. Georgia College President Dr. Steve Dorman said in a May 14 announcement on GC’s FrontPage website that those who have not been vaccinated are “strongly encouraged” to do so as soon as possible. 

USG had already announced plans to return to normal operations (unmasked with no distancing and a resumption of all on-campus programming) beginning with the fall 2021 semester, but the CDC’s announcement moved those plans up by about three months. 

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank the entire campus community for being so vigilant against the spread of COVID-19 by wearing face masks, remaining socially distant, and regularly washing hands and sanitizing work areas,” Dorman said in the FrontPage announcement. “I am delighted that we are moving closer toward normalcy as we prepare campus for the fall semester.”

Georgia College was experiencing extremely high COVID case numbers when students and staff reported to campus last fall. As many as 79 student cases were reported in a single day last August. September was a little rocky as well, but numbers declined sharply as the semester moved further into the fall months. Cases ticked up again in January once everyone returned from the holiday break, but fell again to the point where only three positives were reported throughout April. All of that data is per Georgia College’s COVID data tracking page on the university’s website.  

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