Students, faculty and others will still have to wear masks indoors at the University of Hawaii when the fall semester gets underway later this month, officials announced Wednesday.

The decision came after the university consulted with the state Department of Health in updating it’s Covid-19 guidelines throughout its 10 campuses.

Wearing mask indoors will continue until at least Sept. 19 – about a month after the first day of class on Aug. 22. University officials said they will then seek advice from the health department about whether to lift the mask mandate if it needs to update its guidelines.

“The retention of this indoor masking requirement will help everyone safely begin the semester while all but one of our counties is at a ‘high’ Covid-19 community level,” UH said on its website. “This guidance also recognizes increasing face-to-face interaction this fall among students as well as employees who may have traveled recently from outside of the state.”

Masks are required in classrooms, shared laboratory spaces and tight educational spaces, such as advising offices, according to the press release. But the university said it also highly recommends masking in all other indoor settings on campuses.

Last month, the state Department of Education made indoor masks optional for students returning to public schools. The governor lifted the statewide mandate in March.

Hawaii recorded a weekly average of 528 cases per day on Wednesday with a positivity rate of 13.8%, according to statewide figures.  It also reported 21 deaths over the past week, raising the total to 1,592 since the pandemic began in March 2020.

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