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NAU President Says Masks To Be Required In Classrooms

Angela Gervasi

Masks will be required on certain campus spaces at Northern Arizona University as the fall semester begins, NAU President José Luis Cruz Rivera announced at a town hall Wednesday.

Cruz Rivera says face coverings will be mandated within NAU classrooms and research labs, along with other spaces where individuals cannot practice social distancing. 

It marks a shift in policy. Gov. Doug Ducey in June passed an executive order prohibiting mask mandates in public universities. In July, NAU officials said masks would be recommended. 

Cruz Rivera acknowledged the change yesterday. 

“In my last announcement to the university community, I mentioned ... we would create the conditions for a mask-friendly campus,” he said. 

“Today,” he added, “I want to add that we will also be a mask-smart campus.” 

Face coverings will also be required in vaccination and testing sites, along with university transportation, according to the NAU’s Jacks are Back page, which has been updated to reflect the policy change. 

Ducey’s order also prohibits universities from requiring students to disclose information about their vaccination status and bars mandatory COVID-19 testing. Under the order, universities can only require testing with authorization from the Arizona Department of Health Services if a “significant COVID-19 outbreak” occurs. 

NAU last semester documented more than 1,400 positive COVID-19 tests. 

The newly appointed university president also encouraged vaccination among students and pointed to an active vaccination site at the NAU Fieldhouse. Circumventing Ducey’s executive order, NAU launched a vaccination incentive program, offering rewards from Apple Watches to student dining vouchers for students who choose to get the shot.

“If you are one of those considering it, I implore you, I urge you, I plead with you to be vaccinated sooner rather than later,” Cruz Rivera said.