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MU's mask mandate is set to expire Friday, with no curators meeting scheduled

A COVID-19 mask mandate on the MU campus is set to expire Friday, and university officials have announced no plans to extend it.

Christian Basi, a university spokesperson, said there is currently no UM System Board of Curators meeting scheduled to address the lapse of the mandate. That meeting would have to be called by Thursday afternoon, according to state law.

The current mandate was approved by curators at a special meeting in mid-September. The mandate requires staff, faculty and students to wear masks in class, while transitioning to and from class and in meeting spaces where social distancing isn’t possible.

The mandate provides exceptions, including allowing those who have been vaccinated to attend indoor sporting events and other social events in which attendance is voluntary without wearing masks.

At the time the policy was approved, MU President Mun Choi acknowledged to curators that the university would rely on an honor system of sorts, allowing people on campus to self-report whether they have been vaccinated or not.

If the mask mandate expires, masks will still be required in some areas of campus, including MU Health and MU Health Care, where employees and students work in patient and clinical settings.

As previously reported by the Missourian, the MU Faculty Council recently voted in favor of two COVID-19 related resolutions, one extending the mask mandate to all indoor settings and the other asking to mandate the vaccine for all of those who can get it. Although these resolutions aren’t binding, it shows the council wants these changes.

Some students are echoing a need to keep the mandate, even if it can only be controlled in a limited area such as the classroom.

“I think that they should extend (the mandate) with masks in classrooms, because that is something they can control, while wearing it around campus is not as easily controlled,” one student, Kelly Lopez, said. “So at least we have some areas where people are staying safe.”

Other students feel that without proper enforcement, mask mandates are pointless.

“If they are going to decide that unvaccinated people need to wear a mask, they actually need to enforce that,” another student, Francisco Melendez, said. “If not, then at this point, they might as well just enforce masks all the way. Take them away. It’s all the same right now. They’re not sticking to any policy at this moment.”

The Columbia Missourian is a community news organization managed by professional editors and staffed by Missouri School of Journalism students who do the reporting, design, copy editing, information graphics, photography and multimedia.