Pressure mounts on MSU as it continues to enforce mask mandate

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – While the University of Missouri’s Board of Curators voted to reject a newly proposed mask mandate last month, Missouri State University’s Board of Governors has yet to follow suit.

MSU first implemented a mask mandate on Aug. 14, 2021. After two months of decreased COVID-19 infection rates among faculty, students and staff, the university’s board of governors decided to “modify” their mask requirements.

“Since [Aug. 10, 2021], there has been a reduction in cases and the positivity rate within Greene County, Missouri,” the Oct. 4 announcement said. “Therefore, the university is modifying its COVID-19 Masking Policy as set forth herein, effective Oct. 11, 2021.”

However, the modification of the university’s mask mandate confused many, as it is still very restrictive and not much different from the original mandate. The new mask requirements still cover the vast majority of buildings across MSU’s Springfield and Mountain Grove campuses as well as all “academic settings.”

Some consider it a hollow attempt from the university to appease Missourians and elected officials who have overwhelmingly decried mandates since the beginning of the pandemic. Additionally, while the University of Missouri rejected further attempts to mandate masks, citing the questionable effectiveness of mandates, it has surprised many that the other state-affiliated university in Missouri refuses to do so. 

“Mask mandates don’t work. It’s that simple,” Liberty Alliance Executive Director Spencer Bone said. “The fact that Missouri State is still enforcing one while the University of Missouri isn’t is ridiculous. It’s time for President Clif Smart to follow the science and drop their tyrannical mandate.”

The punishment outlined on Missouri State’s website for students or staff not complying with the mandate also has raised some eyebrows. 

“Students who have not been granted an accommodation and who refuse to wear a mask while in the classroom or other academic settings are subject to administrative withdrawal, consistent with Op3.04-11 Class Disruption,” the website says. 

“Additionally, students who fail to comply with this policy in areas outside the classroom or other academic settings are subject to disciplinary action consistent with the Code of Students Rights and Responsibilities. Employees who have not been granted an accommodation and who refuse to comply with this policy are subject to disciplinary action up to and including dismissal.”

So, not only is Missouri State University still requiring masks when the effectiveness of mandates has proven to be dubious, but it also has provided grounds to fire staff members or kick students out of the university if they do not comply. 

“It’s tragic what is being done to our youth,” said Sen. Eric Burlison, whose district covers portions of the Springfield area. “This is America, the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave. For these young adults to be forced to wear facemasks when the more vulnerable populations have clearly moved on will only be done so in an effort to indoctrinate students to live in fear and submit to control.”

As the majority of elected officials across the state continue to denounce mask mandates by any school, county or municipality, Missourians should expect some increased pressure on Missouri State to follow MU’s lead and lift its mask requirement.

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