CINCINNATI — The University of Cincinnati will test some incoming students for COVID-19, offer cash incentives for vaccination and require everyone on campus to wear masks indoors, regardless of their vaccine status, when they return for the 2021-22 school year.
The policy goes into effect Thursday, a few weeks before classes start on August 23.
Indoor masking will be mandatory for everyone at UC, according to UC Public Health. Outdoor masks will be required for people who are not fully vaccinated if they cannot also maintain social distancing.
Incoming freshman Lily Declercq said she's confident about being on campus, because she's been vaccinated, but believes masks aren't necessary everywhere on campus.
"I think outdoors, definitely not," she said. "Indoors, especially in the dorm, not really. Maybe in classes when we're super close."
The university announced its updated policies Tuesday, only a short time after nearby Northern Kentucky University announced its campus would also require universal masking indoors.
The administration also plans to provide COVID testing, but students can choose avenues other than testing, like submitting vaccination documentation.
"The university does a good job at making sure the dorms are clean and making sure students have their personal space and can follow the COVID precautions," said Carson Simpkins, a student at the university.
Students who are vaccinated can send a picture of their vaccine card to UC Public Health. Students who are not vaccinated must either show proof that they have recently tested negative or receive a COVID-19 test from the university and consent to restricted campus access until their results arrive.
Finally, students who have provided proof of vaccination will have the opportunity to enter weekly drawings for cash prizes of $2,500 or $5,000. The university plans to distribute a total of $50,000 over the course of the semester.
Emma Hess, a sophomore on campus, said she worries the incentives being offered for vaccinations aren't the best path ethically.
"I think it has the opportunity to work, but I don't really know that we should do that," she said. "It's more of, like, your civic duty to make sure you're safe around others."
For more information, visit UC Public Health online.