COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
An indoor mask mandate at the University of Missouri will expire Saturday.
Over 15,000 students have been vaccinated on campus, which is almost half the school population.
University spokesperson Christian Basi said a big reason masks would no longer be required in some parts of campus is because he says students are taking the pandemic seriously.
Basi said, "We continue to see people masking in areas that are not required on campus and we had seen that we had several hundred individuals come to our vaccination clinics."
In effect since July, the mandate applied to classrooms and indoor spaces where social distancing was not possible. Leaders of the University of Missouri System will ask that everyone wear masks indoors, especially where they can't keep their distance, but it will not be required.
The University of Missouri Board of Curators extended mask rules on the system's four campuses last month. The extension carved out exceptions for vaccinated people attending indoor university events.
Campuses will also have to comply with local health orders, which means masks will remain at St. Louis and Kansas City campuses. No such orders are in place at the other two campuses in Columbia and Rolla.
“The temporary indoor mask mandate that was enacted in July and extended in September helped us avoid a potential spike in cases at the beginning of the semester, and relieved pressure on local hospitals,” University of Missouri President Mun Choi said in a news release. “The requirements were never intended to be a permanent policy. Moving forward, we believe vaccination, personal responsibility and continued vigilance from our campus community will help guide us through this stage of the pandemic.”
Some students have mixed feelings about the university removing the mask mandate. University student Kaylnn Donells said she believes removing masks on a campus this large is a bit irresponsible.
Donells said, "It just feels irresponsible to me with how many people go to this school and are in this community and it affects people other than yourself and other people in the Mizzou community. It affects all of Columbia and I just don't think we were ready for something like this yet."
On the other hand, some students, such as Kaylee Betz, are excited that the mask mandate is no longer required after Saturday.
Betz said, "I honestly think it's kind of exciting just because we get to finally get back to normal, compared to having to wear a mask all of the time. Even though it kept us safe, it will be nice to get back to normalcy."
The curators approved a resolution against vaccine mandates across the system early last month. However, the faculty council on the Columbia campus has asked Choi to put mandates for students and staff in place.
The Columbia campus had 29 active student cases as of Wednesday. This semester, cases have stayed far lower than last fall, when MU leaders reported hundreds of active student cases.
The school said all students will still need to wear their masks in health facilities on campus and although the mask mandate is no longer required, it is recommended.