Following is a message that Cedarville University President Dr. Thomas White sent out to the campus community on May 16, 2021, regarding changes to Cedarville’s mask and distancing guidelines.
Dear Cedarville Community,
On May 13, 2021, the CDC updated its guidance on wearing masks for those who have been fully vaccinated. The guidance reads as follows:
- If you are fully vaccinated, you can resume activities that you did prior to the pandemic.
- Fully vaccinated people can resume activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance.
On May 14, 2021, Gov. DeWine issued the following statement:
Ohio will be amending our remaining health orders to comply with the new CDC guidance, which says that those who have been vaccinated no longer need to wear masks, while those who have not been vaccinated should still wear a mask and socially distance.
Gov. DeWine directed the Ohio Department of Health to conform the remaining health orders to CDC guidance through June 2, at which time he has stated that all health orders will end.
The Governor also stated that “Businesses also have every right to continue to use masks and to require them for employees and customers.” The statement also claimed that the experience in other states has been that some individuals may choose to wear masks.
So the obvious question is, “What does this mean for Cedarville University?” We have put together the following guidelines to try and answer that question:
- Cedarville University will not mandate that employees or students must take the vaccine. We believe this is a personal decision.
- Cedarville University will not mandate that employees or students provide COVID vaccination information or take any actions that could be seen as pressuring students, faculty, or staff to take the vaccine. Again, this is a personal decision, and we respect your right to make this decision based on your own wisdom. Lord willing, we plan to operate from the perspective of individual trust and personal responsibility.
- Effective immediately, Cedarville University will not require masks or physical distancing on campus.
- If you have not been vaccinated and you wish to wear a mask and physically distance yourself from others, we respect your personal preference to continue to do so, but we will not ask our guests or customers to wear masks or maintain physical distance. Offices may be strategically structured to provide adequate space to meet the preferences of employees, as possible, and with the approval of the appropriate supervisor.
- Cedarville University does not want individual offices or individual employees asking whether co-workers or guests have been vaccinated. This is private medical information. If someone is not wearing a mask or distancing, then we will assume that the person has been vaccinated or has some other legitimate reason for such actions.
- Certain areas like UMS, CUEMS, Athletic Training, or Cedar Care may need to ask about vaccinations in a respectful way to provide appropriate treatment, and these areas may require masks as part of their standard medical care. Please comply and be respectful of these rules as we seek to serve everyone well.
We must do our best to continue to operate with a sense of personal responsibility. If you do not feel well, please stay home. We must also continue to operate with a Philippians 2 mindset, where we consider the interests of others and count others more significant than ourselves. Whether you believe in masks, distancing, vaccination, etc., or whether you disagree with it all, the Philippians 2 mindset should influence the attitudes and actions on both sides of this debate, and this mindset allows us to “let our reasonableness be known to everyone” (Phil. 4:5).
There will be other questions that will arise, and in due time, we will consider those questions properly. For now, I have encouraged our leadership team to take some much-deserved time off. They need to rest and recharge in order to lead well, so we will not be addressing questions that can wait — especially when it comes to what this means for the fall semester. In July, we will have better data to make those decisions, but our desire will be to return to as normal a semester as possible while continuing to respect the rights of individuals to make their own personal health decisions.
I pray that this communication is clear enough for now and that it provides us with what we need at the moment. I also pray that the Lord will grant you all a season of rest and refresh your spirits so that we may continue to serve King Jesus and Cedarville well in the future. Thank you.
President and Professor of Theology