MU is instituting new face covering guidelines today that will require students to wear masks at all times when on campus.
Before the change, students were only required to wear face coverings indoors. However, masks were not required for students if they were outdoors and remainied six feet apart from others.
Requiring students to wear masks outdoors comes after a significant jump in the positivity rate of coronavirus in Boone County. The positivity rate increased from 10.6% to 44.6% just after one week of school beginning, according to the Boone County health department.
Five-day averages for new positive cases have increased by more than three times since the week before classes began. More than one-third of all positive cases are in the 20-24 age group.
MU News Bureau assistant director Stephanie Fleming said tightening these restrictions could reduce the risk for transmission in instances where students on campus might not appear to be at risk.
“We are able to prevent those scenarios where somebody is walking past you and doesn’t have a face covering, or you’re eating but maybe you’re a little bit too close [to others],” Fleming said.
MU students will be required to put on masks immediately after drinking and eating but are not required to wear face coverings if they are exercising alone. Employees are also not required to wear masks when working alone. outdoors.
Ashton Day, the Boone County Health Educator, said while wearing masks can combat transmission, social distancing is just as important.
“Mask wearing is not a substitute for social distancing,” Day said. “It’s a great tool in the tool-box, but social distancing and keeping that distance from others is the number one thing you can do in terms of lowering your risk of transmission.”
*This article has been updated to add clarity on the requirement for employees working alone outdoors, and on the reduced trasmission potential for students who might not appear to be at risk.