COLUMBIA, Mo. – After over two months of requiring face coverings indoors, the University of Missouri’s mask mandate for all four of its campuses will expire on Friday.
The indoor mask mandate was initially implemented on Aug. 2. It was then subsequently renewed by the UM System Board of Curators in September after two Republican curators, Keith Holloway and Greg Hoberock, surprisingly joined Democrat curators in support of the mandate.
However, the Board seemingly has no plans to reinstate the mandate as the University sent a campus-wide email on Thursday recommending that students, faculty and staff wear masks indoors, instead of requiring it.
The University noted that case numbers have remained low during the first few months of the fall semester and local hospitals have been able to keep up with COVID-19 patients. The hospitals are currently in yellow status, meaning they are operating within standard capacity.
The new campus guidance is in line with CDC recommendations and the health advisory for Boone County, according to the University. As of Thursday morning, the University reported only 12 active cases among faculty and staff and 26 active student cases.
University of Missouri spokesperson Christian Basi reiterated to the Columbia Missourian that while masks may be recommended to students, faculty and staff, they cannot be required.
“Masks are still going to be recommended in the classroom, and faculty members can definitely ask their students to wear masks,” Basi said. “However, they cannot require them nor can they assess any kind of penalty to a student for not wearing them.
“If a student is concerned about exposure to COVID-19 because of a medical condition, we can recommend or the faculty member can recommend that the student reach out to the disability center to determine if there is some type of accommodation that can be made.”
As classrooms returned to standard capacity this fall, the University seems to be taking less drastic measures in response to COVID-19 and are allowing protection measures to be decided by individuals instead of blanket mandates. In September, the MU System Board of Curators passed two resolutions prohibiting any vaccine mandates among students or staff on campus.