/Ole Miss, MSU drop mask mandates

Ole Miss, MSU drop mask mandates

Nonprofit Mississippi News Mississippi’s largest universities have announced modified mask mandates on Friday afternoon. Except in healthcare settings and instructional settings (e.g. studios and labs), masks are no longer required at University of Mississippi or Mississippi State University. The modified protocol was based on updated guidance from Mississippi Department of Health and declining metrics like case numbers or positivity rates. On Monday, officials at Delta State University lifted the mask requirement for indoor activities including classrooms. DSU now requires masks only in its campus health center. Mississippi Today was informed by public relations officers from five other state universities that they continue to require masks indoors. The modified requirements were announced by UM and MSU about a week following MSDH’s February 7th update to its guidance for colleges and Universities. This was in response to the new recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The updated guidance by the CDC “recommends indoor concealment in public for all persons in areas of substantial transmission” for colleges or universities. Although cases are decreasing, UM and MSU still see high levels of community transmission in Lafayette and Oktibbeha Counties. MSDH previously required universities to require masks on campus indoors when there is significant or high community transmission. This guidance was adopted during MSDH’s delta wave, according to Liz Sharlot (MSDH’s communications director). Sharlot stated that MSDH informed the Institutions of Higher Learning about the new guidance. Sharlot spoke on behalf of MSDH. UM and MSU have been the only public universities to relax their mask mandates so far. Brittany Davis Green, communications director at Delta State University, stated that the university’s administration will meet this week to discuss its COVID protocol. UM faculty and staff have the option to wear face covers when visiting their private offices, Chancellor Glenn Boyce explained in an email to students, faculty, and staff. Boyce stated that masks are not required in the following spaces on campus: residence halls and libraries, dining facilities as well as the student union, recreation spaces, retail spaces, offices, and conference rooms. MSU’s COVID-19 task team will be re-evaluating these metrics every week, according to a press release. Sid Salter (MSU’s director for public affairs) stated that the university’s goal was to resume normal campus operations as quickly as possible. Editor’s Note: This article was updated to reflect the fact that Delta State University removed its mask mandate on February 14th at 5 p.m.